Homelessness is not narrow-minded. It knows no prejudice.
It sees no color; no race; no religion; no gender; no age.
It will never end if we keep looking away.
-L.J. McPherson Founder of Yetzer Ha-Tov ministries
On April 20, 2010, I will begin to undertake one of the biggest endeavors of my life. I will be walking from Vancouver, BC to Tijuana, Mexico.
I thought my friends would tell me I was crazy. Only a few did. I thought I could not really pull it off on such short notice, but it is coming together brilliantly. Mostly, I thought at age 54 I am fat and sassy and have more than a few aches an pains from a previous work injury. How could I possibly pull this off?
When I began planning this event, I walked a little more than two miles and hurt terribly when I finally fell into bed at 2 am. As I lay there praying for my sanity to return, I began to doubt that of God's. Surely he meant for someone else to do this.
Of course as I finish my prayer, I hear this still small voice that says to me, "Do you trust me?"
"Yes I trust you."
"Then don't question me. I have the right person."
"That's no place for a man to go,: he said to himself.
"There's no place to sit. There's no protection from the weather. And how could you sleep dangling from that quivering twig?"
Common sense told him not to go out on that limb. Convenience told him not to do it. Pride told him not to do it. But God told him to do it. That's what bothered him.
It bothered him because he was happy where he was. Life next to the trunk was good. His branch was big enough to allow him to sit in comfort.
Besides, he knew the kind of fellow who goes out on a limb. Radical. Extremest. Liberal. Always going overboard. Always stirring leaves.*
Noah could have said "No God. Sorry. you've got the wrong guy. I'm not building a boat in the middle of the dessert. My friends will think I'm nuts." Instead, he went out on that limb.
Abraham could have said "Destroy the one thing in my life that I have been waiting for more than 90 years to have? No way!" Instead, with a shattered heart, he went out on a limb and obeyed what he believed God was asking him to do. Because of his faith, his son was spared.
I had been secure with my life. I wasn't asking for changes. I just wanted to go on my merry way and keep looking away when I saw a homeless person. I was afraid. I knew I was only one step away from homelessness myself, so it made it uncomfortable when i saw a man or a woman standing on the side of the road begging for money. I didn't want it to happen to me. Again.
So why is this unemployed, overweight, injured nobody walking from border to border for people I don't know? I can only say that I know that I know that I know that God was asking me to go out on that limb. I guess I would rather get to heaven and find out that I wasn't supposed to do this, than to not do it only to find out when I get to heaven that I was.
I do not begin to compare myself with the great Martin Luther king Jr. who dreamt of an America that "Will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character", but I too 'have a dream'. I dream of the America of our forefathers where if a neighbor needed help, a neighbor lent a hand.
So as I walk and listen to the stories of thousands of homeless people on this journey, I will daily remind myself of the words of Martin Luther king Jr. "It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment."
So I am walking for the homeless; but I am walking for my neighborhood grocer who once spent three months in a shelter for battered women; for the customer service rep at the local copy place i frequent who lived in his car for a whole year before he got the job he has now; for the construction worker that broke his back falling off a ladder and can not survive on disability.
I am walking for my children and my grandchildren so they can have a better tomorrow. I am walking for hope. I am walking for homes. I am walking for life. I am walking for change.
But mostly, I am walking because god asked me to go out on a limb. how could I say no to Him?
*From God Came Near by Max Lucado