I inch up to the white line and stare blankly at the red light ahead. I almost miss him completely. Less than ten feet away from my car sits a hooded man whose frame blends in with the black night.
I shiver inside my fully insulated SUV and subconsciously cinch my sweater up around my neck. The temperature gauge on my dash registers a chilly 47 degrees.
The light takes an eternity. I notice his wheelchair and the way his head hangs to the side. I wonder if he is asleep.
His hands grip a cardboard sign. I can only guess what it says. Doesn’t he know it’s pitch black, and no one can read that sign even if they tried?
Do you see yourself? a voice breaks the silence.
The light turns green and my car lunges forward. I leave the man alone in the shivering dark.
The voice that pricked my spirit is a voice I know well. Jesus, the One who continues to capture my heart and rescue me from my selfishness, wasn’t done speaking to my soul. He had only just begun this conversation.
Do you see yourself?
How can I see myself in a disabled homeless man sitting alone in the dark? What do we have in common, Jesus?
Do you see Me?
This Jesus I know and love and serve shows Himself in the hungry and worn-out, the dependent and the desperate, the lonely and forgotten.
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Matthew 25:35-36
Why is it so difficult for us to see Jesus here? We search everywhere but the lowest place. Why do we dislike His honest answer that this is where we’ll find Him, engage Him, walk with Him?
Jesus places Himself here, in the lowest ranks, with common people well acquainted with their own need. And He says, Follow me. He invites us to find ourselves among the least so that we might also find Him.
Yet, it’s too easy to divert our eyes to dodge the conversation, pretending we’re not needy at all. It’s less risky to ignore the man at the stoplight and wholeheartedly believe he’s needy and I’m not.
Relying on my own strength is a feeble attempt to distance myself from my own need for Jesus.
We need Jesus to recognize Him in the lost, the marginalized and forgotten. We need Jesus to show us our own lost-ness and emptiness and alienation and outright death without Him. Ironically, we need Jesus to remind us how badly we need Jesus.
Our faith hinges on those three simple words: We need Jesus.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son”–the very Bread of Life that fills our emptiness, Living Water that quenches every longing and desire.
God clothed us with a righteousness we don’t deserve and healed us of our sin-sickness. He showed us the only Way to enter in relationship with a holy God. Our Savior was not only willing to sit with us in our prison cells, but He busted the doors wide open.
And “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Every past, present and future need is met fully in Jesus.
My heart believes this, but my eyes sometimes struggle to see the beauty woven into my dependence on a faithful God who has given me new life.
So, I pray for the man at the stop light—that his physical needs would be met, but also that his heart will find Jesus. I thank God for using his raw and visible need to remind me of my own invisible need for Jesus.
I thank Him for bridging the colossal gap between His holiness and my spiritual poverty that I could never close on my own. And, I thank Him for an inheritance I don’t deserve.
Every breath we take is a gift. May we use each one to praise Him and thank Him for rescuing our needy souls. Again and again and again.