If God had a face, what would it look like?
And would you want to see
If seeing meant that you would have to believe
In things like Heaven and in Jesus and the saints
And all the prophets? And…
Yeah, yeah, God is great
Yeah, yeah, God is good
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
What if God was one of us
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make His way home?- Joan Osborne “One of Us”
A medium time ago I met an older homeless man on the street. I was having a bad day and could tell he was making a beeline for me. As he approached I simply raised my hand up to his face and side-stepped him and kept going. As I passed by I turned and noticed he had stopped and was slumped over. As I kept walking a wave of guilt engulfed me. I had no clue what this man wanted, I made an assumption, right or wrong, that he was just going to ask me for money that he would use to buy booze, drugs or cigarettes. But honestly, I didn’t know because I didn’t give him an opportunity to tell me what he needed.
I turned around and headed back his way to talk to him. I couldn’t believe I could treat another human being as rudely I did. I needed to make this right and I needed to make it right now. But I couldn’t find him, it was as if he had simply vanished. I covered several blocks with no luck. He would have been easy to spot and there were no real side streets or alleys that he could have slipped down.
I thought about this man all night, what his story was and how easily that could have been me. What separated us, one mistake, a bad decision, mental illness, family, a lost job, the line between us was probably very thin, thinner than I knew or would like to accept. His disappearance shook me to my core. What if he was an angel sent down to test me? A test I failed. Or maybe he was God, “Just a slob like one of us” and I missed an opportunity to bring the kingdom here on earth by helping someone in need and in turn helping myself.
In Denver I was approached by a young man in a dark parking lot. He said he was a teacher and had his wallet stolen and needed gas money to get home. I looked him in the eye and asked was $5.00 enough and he said yes. I reached in my wallet and gave him the money and he disappeared into the night. My wife just looked at me and shook her head. She said you know he is just going to buy drugs with that money. I looked at her and smiled and said maybe, then again. “Just a stranger on the bus, Trying to make His way home”.