By Pauline Hylton
He lay under a small tree in the park across the street. Thin legs stuck out of tattered khakis. One pants leg hiked up to his knee, one down. Scaly skin burned by the hot Florida sun.
I noticed the dark-skinned man with the shopping cart while I walked my dog. At first, I felt awkward and didn’t know which way to look. After a few days, I waved, or offered a greeting, and then I decided to feed him.
I can’t reach all the homeless people in the world, but I can reach one, I reasoned.
For several days I packed a lunch for him. At first, he just waved and nodded. After a few days, I asked him his name.
“Terry,” he said avoiding eye contact. A few days later I brought him a meal packaged in a to go container that had John 14:6 on it. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father, but through me.”
Recently, as my dog, Sam and I exited the park I passed by Terry’s usual spot, and gave him a meal. He patted Sam, smiling. I faced him.
“Terry, I was thinking, I love to pray for people. Is there anything that I can pray for you this week?” His eyes remained downward. He said something.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you.”
“I’m fine,” echoed in my mind all day.
Sometimes I answer, “I’m fine,” when asked about my spiritual condition when actually I’m sitting under a tree. Dirty, hungry, destitute.
Rags of spiritual apathy cover my shriveled body. I cling to the shopping cart next to me filled with my worldly treasures—dirty bags of materialism and self-centeredness. I’m spiritually starved and don’t even it. I think I’m fine, afraid to admit my need. Afraid of losing my earthly, shopping-cart-treasures.
Jesus said in Matthew 6: 19-21,
“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”
I call it IIH stock. Investing in Heaven. If we really believe what the Bible says, then our life on this earth is a pin-dot compared to eternity. This world isn’t our home, heaven is.
But, do we live like it?
I haven’t seen Terry in a while. Maybe he’s moved on or the police have moved him on. Chances are, he’s still holding onto that shopping cart full of bags.
But, he’s fine.
How about you? What’s in your shopping cart?
Is it materialism, or addiction, or control? The list of the world’s baggage is endless. Will you do something about it?
I John 1: 9 states,
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
It feels good to be clean. It’s a blessing to drop that baggage.
Don’t say, “I’m fine.”
Copyright © 2012, Pauline Hylton, used by permission.
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Pauline Hylton writes from Clearwater, Florida. She lives with her husband, almost-grown-son, 91-year-old mother, and dog, Sam. She specializes in humor, or whatever else you pay her for. She’s been published in Chicken Soup, USA TODAY, Kyria, The Tampa Bay Times, Tallahassee Woman, and many more. Pauline is 50ish and enjoys teaching God’s Word to women. She loves the Lord, her family, and dark chocolate—not necessarily in that order. You can find her at paulinehylton.com.
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