Below is the sweetest story. It was sent to me by one of my board members, Dr. Ted Scoggins. I wanted to share it with you because it touched my heart. Above you see what we see, joy and wonder and delight! Scattered amidst their happiness are the broken and the homeless and the hurting. They are also in the crowd. Please read his story and pray for the homeless of Galway.
In Jesus , Linda
He was not one of our patients at the clinic where I supervise nurse practitioners, but on a busy day, he dropped into our waiting room and had a bowel disaster in his clothes and in one of our waiting room chairs. He was fairly young, maybe in his thirties, skinny and frail, and was not there to be seen as a patient. He was simply there. I think maybe there was no where else to go.
Our clinic takes care of many who have no insurance, many who have little of anything, many who fall through our cultures crevices, and so many who have brittle and broken lives. And some, from time to time in their lives, are homeless. But our building is full of salt and light, so on the day the young man dropped into our clinic, salt and light were salty and shining.
By the time I first realized what was happening with the young man, the gracious front office staff had directed him back to the patient area, to the staff men’s room. They had given him a wash cloth and soap and the space to begin cleaning himself up. Somehow they had found him some gym-type shorts and a shirt to put on after he cleaned up. It was at that point they asked me to take the gym shorts and go in and check on him.
I knocked and entered the restroom. He was ridding himself of the messy clothes and was preparing to wash, standing by the sink. He did not know us and we did not know him, but there he was, cleaning up his embarrassment in the restroom of strangers. I told him my name and asked for his and he told me. I asked him if he was having stomach trouble and he said he was alright. I asked him where he was staying and he began the story of how the people he was staying with accused him of stealing their drugs, and that it was no longer a good idea for him to stay in Chattanooga, and that he was tired of Chattanooga anyway. He was homeless.
I asked him if he had any family and he said they were all dead except his mother, who lived some distance away. He named the town, but I had not heard of it. I asked where he was headed and he said he was headed north. I asked if that meant further north in Tennessee, and he said he meant even further north, like Michigan.
Salt and light were busy down the hall as I talked to our young visitor. The truly concerned staff members, who did not chase him out of the place, but cleaned up his waiting room mess and brought him back into our safe haven, were getting some supplies together for him. Our office manager stopped her busy duties and went to a nearby store and got him a backpack and some fresh and new clothes, and another person went to Arby’s next door and got him something to eat.
He was not asking for medical care, and really wasn’t asking for anything. He said he intended to move on after he got cleaned up. I asked what he was going to do specifically and he had no specific plan, and actually seemed OK with that, not bothered at all that he was uncertain what was next. I don’t think he thought of it as uncertainty. That’s just the way you live, I guess, when you are homeless.
I told him the Lord takes care of us and he agreed. After he was cleaned up, wearing his prevenient gym shorts and non-matching tee shirt, we walked up the hallway together to the room where God’s office staffers were assembling the young man’s food, new clothes and back pack. He and I chatted as we walked and then, at one point in the hallway, we stopped and caught each other’s eyes.
His eyes were bright and alive, somehow even peaceful. We smiled at one another without words. He looked like he could have been my own son. How different would his life be if he had been my son? Maybe no different. Only God knows. And if I asked God, He might surprise me with His answer and say, "But, he IS your son."
Our social worker stepped in to see what she could do for this stranger who was not even one of our patients, but he did not want any such help. He was very appreciative but did not want anything more. Two of our patients who had been in the waiting room, and witnessed some of the happenings, offered him a ride to the mall, so off he went.
Faith and works, trust and love, are inseparable at the clinic where I work and where I am surrounded by God’s people. The Body of Christ is no concept there. Witness to God’s salvation is words, hearts, minds, hands, feet, soap, backpack, food, new clothes and gym shorts. Dignity and respect are given to all who pass through those doors, no matter what sort of mess they might leave in a waiting room chair.
And even if they are not our patients, they are our brothers or sisters, or daughters or sons. We travel our days alongside them all, as dependent on God’s grace as anyone He brings into our building. Sometimes the volume of patients seems heavy because the aggravation and frustration is heavier, and the brokenness of peoples lives seems overwhelming, and trouble drops in unannounced, but we pray for one another, and the staff and practitioners who work in our clinic actually love people. All people.
Some of those people might even be angels, or Jesus, Himself, in the person of a homeless young man heading north.