The Word on the Street - 3.16.2023
I should have known, from the twinkle in his eye, that Brian was messing with me! I had prayed with him a Saturday before that God would provide him with a job. I told him I would look online for a job for him, but came up empty. It was a busy week. So, the first thing he asked me the next Saturday, of course, was whether I had found him a job. “No”, I awkwardly confessed, “but I’ll keep looking this week, Brian.” “You don’t have to do that,” he said, smiling. “Cause I already got one!”
I’ve started keeping a prayer journal. Under the “Thank You Lord” section provided for answered prayer, I wrote on 3-11, “Brian’s New Job!”. He got out and interviewed with a company, he said. He talked to a lot of people, but most importantly he talked to his Father in heaven. And God heard and was merciful, for which we were both praising His Name together. Brian was starting on Tuesday this week and I have kept him in my prayers and hope you will also be led to do so.
I was reading the “Collects” of Thomas Cranmer, made a martyr during the reign of “Bloody Mary” on March 21, 1556, over 450 years ago. His Collect (a collective prayer for the people) on the third Sunday of Lent (which was last Sunday) goes like this:
“We beseech you, Almighty God, look upon the hearty desires of your humble servants, and stretch forth the right hand of your majesty, to be our defense against all our enemies through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
What does Cranmer mean by “hearty desires” in this prayer? It was suggested by the commentator that Cranmer meant an older kind of heart’s desire:
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psalm 51:17)
And there are three enemies that threaten Brian’s new job – the flesh, the world and the devil. May God’s majestic right am uphold him and defend him!
I remember G. K. Chesterton saying in his book, Orthodoxy, that there are an infinite number of angles from which a person might fall, but only one at which that person can remain standing. So, I pray that Brian will be left standing. God bless him!
My friend Joey at LWCC said in a class we are both attending that if someone goes out to the street to minister to people and doesn’t have love for them, any words that person might say will fall upon deaf ears.
I saw an elderly woman across the street corner from where we had setup our tables, sitting motionless and alone in her wheelchair. It was very cold. There was something about the look on her face. You could see she just wanted to die. I went to her and asked if I could push her wheelchair down the street to where the Catholic church was serving breakfast. She let me take her to the church, but said her wheelchair was too big for the rather rickety elevator there, so I went downstairs and brought breakfast back up to where she was sitting in the gloom.
I brought myself a cup of coffee also and asked her permission to sit beside her. She didn’t have much to say. I had brought a coat for, ironically, another woman in a wheelchair who had asked for the coat but whom I haven’t seen since. My new friend wouldn’t accept it. Jamie, dear heart that she is, offered her the scarf she was wearing, but the old woman wouldn’t accept that either. You could see she didn’t trust anyone anymore. All I got out of her was her name and that she had six kids, all of them living in Ohio. The children she cared for, brought up, were not there for her now that she was staying at a women’s shelter, homeless.
So, I told her how my own mother took ill and all six of her children just had time to make it home before she died. She held on until then. I was with her in the hospital room when she passed. I remember she was looking at something beyond me that she wanted to tell me about, but was too far gone to speak. Then that last rattling breath and the stillness of a life ended. It seemed full circle to me, because she had heard my first breath when I was born. And I knew the world had lied when it said I had a great future ahead of me. I could see what future was ahead of me in that hospital bed.
That was the beginning of my salvation testimony, which I then started to share with the elderly woman. She was in a wheelchair so couldn’t really escape it, of course, but she seemed intently interested in what I was telling her, nevertheless.
How I expected a brass band or something similar to recognize my arrogance coming to Pennsylvania to help care for the 11 year-old son, my half-brother, my mother left behind. As if I, a single man back then, knew anything about raising children! I got snow rather than a statue in my honor. It fell so thickly, I supposed it was my sins of omission falling from heaven to drift over me. My car spun out into the path of an 18-wheeler on icy 283 and was so damaged (though I was unhurt) in the collision that both headlights pointed up at the stars; a silent, vehicular gesture of “why me?”
I began then to read the Book of Romans in one of the unopened Bibles I had around the house I shared with my half-brother. How the words seemed written in fire to me because for the first time in my life I could tell every one of them was true. By the time I reached Romans 8:38, I was a Christian:
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And all the snow began to melt away once I confessed His holy name!
“I’ve told you everything about me now,” I said to her. “At least, what is important.”
Tammy asked me to push her to The Daily Bread, a homeless shelter down an alleyway close to where we minister Saturdays. One of the people gathered at the front door was kind enough to go inside and get a worker to open a side door so that I could wheel her into the waiting elevator.
“Thank you, Jeff,” Tammy said, as I was leaving. The first time she used my Christian name.
And that is the Word on the Street!
For more information, or to learn how to join us in reaching people for Jesus, please email Living Water’s Director of Outreach, Mike Bongo, at firstname.lastname@example.org and he will get you plugged in! You will be blessed as you become a blessing to others!