What is Faith?

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. ~ Hebrews 11:1

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I Left My Heart in San Francisco

As I write these words, it is the wee small hours of the morning. The sun is not yet up, nor is my traveling companion, but I have been awake for hours wondering how honest I should really be. Very, I decide. That's what this is about. The good, the bad and the ugly.

I realized quite accidentally yesterday that I have lead a very sheltered life. I was homeless for more than 5 years. I have been shot at, stabbed and beaten to a pulp while on the streets. Doesn't sound very sheltered does it?

I have done volunteer work at various shelters where I live in Portland, Oregon and in cities throughout this journey. But even with all of that, I was never frightened enough to have a full blown panic attack . Yesterday I was.

For the first time since this trip began, I was afraid to get out of my car. I have met several heroin addicts over the years. Those I have met have been in some type of recovery program, therefore clean. I had never met such a hardcore addict so desperate for a fix that when the opportunity arose, they shoot up then and there, not caring of the consequences. I hadn't met one, until yesterday.

As I drove to the beginning of the route I had mapped out for our daily walk, I was frightened at what I saw. Not only were there hundreds of people without homes, but many were drunk, shooting up or physically attacking one another. These are the homeless that the directors of the shelters call hard core. The people who sadly have not yet reached their bottom and only want the hand out, not the hand up. I cannot say if all of them were like that because I did not do yesterday's route.

My heart began to race, the tears began to flow and I could not catch my breath. As I drove past the hordes of homeless through the river of tears I kept saying I'm sorry, I'm sorry, over and over until it was almost a chant. I felt so inadequate, so useless. I was tired, overwhelmed, and couldn't get away fast enough from the scene that looked like something out of a Spielberg concentration camp .

I cannot remember ever crying so hard in my life. Ever. The tears still have not stopped. They have lessened over these last hours, but not stopped.

As I cry, I do not weep for those people, but selfishly for myself. I think "There but by the grace of God go I ." Normally I do not like those words. It is as if I am saying that it could never happen to me. But it did. It did happen to me and it wasn't until I was 3 states, 63 days and 1122 miles into this trip, did I understand that although primarily about the homeless, this journey is about me as well. That sounds arrogant I know because it should never have been about me, but right now, right this moment it very much is.

In obedience to God's calling, I am facing a giant I thought I had long ago killed and buried. My homelessness. I never understood so completely until yesterday, how much in denial I was over my past. How much I clung to that past, for fear of ever going back to that point of no return, of ever becoming 'hard core'. So right this very moment I can say with confidence that it is with God's grace, and only by God's grace that I am at all.

Will this deter me from continuing my quest? Heavens no! It makes me that much more confident that I am doing what God has asked of me.

You see I know what it's like to not have anyone beside you during your hour or years of need. Perhaps none of those people will believe me when I tell them here is a better life, but I will plant the seed. I don't have to stick around for the harvest. I know it will come and I will let God take care of the crop.

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