“What would you do, if Jesus came to your house?” McKinley, a tall, smiling, red-eyed black man, asked while reciting a poem he wrote.
“Would you introduce him to all your closest friends, or would you hope they’d stay away?”
His poem, in perfect rhymes (which I’m horribly reciting, because perfect rhymes are not in my writing repertoire) ended and he told me how gracious God had been in his life and what a great life God had given him.
Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect from his story. If God had given him a great life, then surely his story wouldn’t be that bad, right?
McKinley was the first person to open up and tell me where he came from. This was my first night at the church, and I wasn’t sure how to ask someone how they became homeless. I mean, he had to be homeless because he was here, but yet, he was praising God and thanking Him for his blessed life. I decided the most straight-forward question would be best.
“How did you end up living on the streets?” I asked, half expecting him to say he didn’t live on the streets, but just couldn’t afford heat this month.
His response messed me up.
“Well, my wife died about four years ago. When she died, nothing in my life was good anymore. I couldn’t find joy in anything. I mean, I’m a good person, but you know, when you meet that one person that fits you, it just… fits. When it’s gone, there ain’t no gettin’ that back,” he said.
He went on to tell me they had a business together. Piecing together the rest of his very scattered story-telling, I assume he was a truck driver. I don’t know how she died, or the circumstances surrounding him becoming homeless, but you can tell in his voice what once was well put together, working, loving husband, has been withdrawn and turned into someone else. Someone who doesn’t know how to make it anymore. Someone who lives life in the shadows, trying to make sense of his nonsensical life.
This man had somehow found, that despite his confusion, his loss, his living on the streets and not knowing what was around the next corner (a gun? somewhere to sleep? a friend? an enemy?), that God was still good and faithful.
How many of us that live in our cookie cutter houses on our cookie cutter streets and complain when our cable flickers or our dinner gets cold, can’t seem to figure out that God is good and faithful?
How many of us that live in what McKinley might call luxury with jobs and money and friends and family, can’t admit that God has been good and faithful to us?
How many of us climb into bed next to our spouse or significant other and resent them or go to bed angry because they left a light on, can’t seem to thank God for putting them in our life?
This man knows more about God’s Love, even in his lost life, than most of us do, in our over-filled cups of life.
UPDATE: Prior to this being published, I heard from a girl from my church, who also posted a little something about McKinley, that enough money had been raised to renew his CDL and (hopefully) get him working again! This is amazing news, and I hope McKinley can get some of his life back soon!