If we’re honest, we all know of people we struggle with. People much different than us. People we don’t know how to be with. Those people.
In the 45 years I have belonged to Jesus, I have come to look forward to several things at Christmas time. Recently, one of those is the annual toy give away at our Storehouse ministry. The Thursday before Christmas, we serve a hot meal and give away groceries to anyone who comes (as we do each Thursday during the year). In addition, we give presents to all children through age 16. Inevitably this leads to record attendance at our little weekly outreach—this year coming one or two short of 500 served in the space of an hour.
With all the people I was able to talk with this year, there is one who haunts me—one I wasn’t able to talk with. One of those people. He often goes by “T”. He is nearly my age, and has spent much of his life living on the street. He is schizophrenic, and usually not taking his meds. The reality he lives in doesn’t coincide with the one the rest of us experience. This makes life very scary for T. He doesn’t understand it, but he knows he is one of those people. He reacts to his fear by lashing out at those he fears—which includes pretty much everyone. This year, as families began to line up for Storehouse hours before we opened, something happened to T again. He spewed profanity and threats, and of course no one understood why. Regardless, he couldn’t be allowed to continue, and when one of the volunteers came out and asked him to settle down, he turned on the volunteer, pushed him, and left the property.
I speak with T often. Just last week we talked about his life on the street and his fears as he charged his phone using one of our out door power outlets. I can usually (though not always) talk T down from his fear, but at Storehouse I didn’t get the chance because of the behavior his fear led him to.
Now, as we approach Christmas eve and Christmas day, I look forward to seeing many friends, people in my congregation, my children and their families—but I wish I could see T. I wish I could reach him and explain to him that the Christmas event was the answer to his fear. To be sure, he hasn’t been healed yet, but he can have a future with the Lord, sane and healthy. And as I contemplate what I would love to share with T—what I have shared with him many times—I have hope for him. Because Jesus came to die for us, and to forgive us, I have hope that the Lord will meet T in that reality only he seems to be aware of.
This Christmas I am so grateful that the Christmas event is about salvation, not just for me, or for people like me, but for the “Ts” of the world. For those people. And in this new year, I hope to be faithful in those opportunities the Lord gives me to talk with people like T. To share the gospel, to love them, to just be with them and let them know that I am one of those people too.
Merry Christmas T, and to everyone else!