This morning, driving back from having breakfast with a friend, I noticed off the side of the road, to the right, as I was coming up the hill, a near naked man strolling, stumbling, and limping down the hill toward the ocean. Literally covered in dark and blackened stains of what appeared to be oil, or other permanent marks that tattooed his entire body. The only remains of any type of clothing was a short jacket that was shredded so poorly, it just hung on him loosely. The jacked did no justice for protecting him from the elements of the weather, nor any protection from his body to the public. Long hair, unshaven, with an extremely long beard, the man carried nothing in his possession but a small plastic milk jug.
Completely out of "place" among the neighborhood's outward appearance, the man seemed to be unaware of stares and verbal gawking that caused traffic to slow.
At least 45 cars, with all of the passengers inside had a clear view of this man's obvious situation. People, in their cars, continued to pass by, gawking, rubbernecking, and stopping to stare. As the man passed by my passenger side window, I stole one look at his face. His eyes, deeply sucken into his face, had gaunt cheeks that pulled close to his face so tight, it looked painful. My heart gripped itself against my ribcage and I felt helpless.
" In what ways does our understanding of the life of Christ directly influence how we live as middle-class consumers in the face of widespread poverty?"
- Dr. Dan Allender PhD
I guess we experience a lot of poverty in various aspects via the journey of life, and some are more visible than others. Some drain you when you visually experience the poverty. Others, in perspective, are emotionally staggering in its force.
I didn't really know how to react, respond, or even think when I saw the naked man wandering down the road. My first reaction was of, to be honest, disgust. It wasn't a pleasant sight on many levels, nor was it something of outward beauty. Moving on from the visual pain, I felt the emotional shock-wave move through my heart and into my head. It was the rolling kind of wave that rolled on up into my head.
The scenery shifted as I drifted past the lonely naked man walking down the hill, and I veered left into the flowing traffic. I had joined the majority of routine, conforming to the rest of traffic and headed toward the east side of the city. No one, myself included, minded to consider the naked man walking down the road.
Who are we? A society that keeps on with the agenda and not turning back for the naked and wounded heading down the road. As I was driving along, conformed to the rest of humanity, the thoughts rushed through my skull.
Should I have stopped?
If I knew I was supposed to stop and offer this man help, would I?
Did I have the strength and the courage to stop and offer the man clothes, shower, food, shelter, and medical attention ?
What if this man has children ? Does this naked man walking down the road have people that love and care about him? My heart began to weep up into my eyes. What if I am the one that is to stop ? Could I honestly and with the act of love and compassion invite to take him in my car to get a shower, clothes, and food ? Could I really do that ?
I felt horrible. I felt selfish. I felt convicted. The question was really hard. I didn't know if I liked the answer.
No. I don't think I could. Or could I ?
Truly shocking is the reality of how strangers, friends, family, and even your own blood will leave you to join the conforming crowd of popularity. In what seems like an edgy way to excuse yourself away from the confronting situation, reality reveals that we've just left the needy person in the ditch. Leaving the naked man walking down the road was painful in more than one aspect. First, I was convicted that what if I were to be the person to turn around and complete what is asked of me by my Creator, "to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, and to speak up for the rights of the poor and needy," could I accomplish that ?
Secondly, it was painful to realize that so many self-proclaiming good people exclaim from mountain tops to be doing, as all of the holier than holy look on, everything to help those in need, when in essence, they've just passed the naked man walking down the road.
Have you been left by society's conforming call that spits you out?
I think that often times what we are to see and experience with our eyes is an answer, revelation, or lesson to be learned about how we can become better individuals in our global community. We are so blinded by the goal and the task that is to accomplish because we are so focused on something that is in the way.
The blocked view of the action sometimes leaves one unaware of the outcome. If we truly desire to seek the track that destiny has mapped, we must move to get a better view, and moreover, become proactively involved in removing the blocked point that will hinder us from getting the message.
While you've been blocked from the view of seeing what you think is the center of attention, you will begin to notice some important aspects of the environment to your right and left. You will begin to see the beautiful people who are right next to you that are offering you insight in how to see around the blocked and blinded side. You start to see individuals who will walk with you and show you how to remove the blind spot so you can focus once again on the center of the game.
The most complexional and uniquely engaging aspect of the insight that comes from your right or left are from individuals and groups that you would least expect it. Sadly and tragically enough, the individuals, friends, colleagues, and even your own family are the ones that don't come in from your right or left, rather are the ones that continue on in conformity's traffic pattern while you are left with the decision to help or not to help the naked man walking down the road. You thought that they would walk with you down the road, the ones that seemingly walked with you for hours, days, months, and years, however, as time has grown old, you realize that its only between you and your Maker to see the center of the destiny. Others promised but broke the promise and you are left, just like the naked man walking down the road.
Unaware, yet so aware...
Would you pick up the naked man? Would you be the one to drop your own agenda, opinions, and judgements, in order to find the naked man clothes, shelter, medical and emotional attention ?
It would line up with what you've always said you would do...
"Speak up and defend the rights of the poor and needy," Let's see if you can... Try...