Beauty in the Peculiar
My mother-in-law and I were driving at the top of the escarpment in an urban part of Hamilton, Ontario. I was about 30 seconds from turning onto the road that would take me down the hill to my next destination, when my GPS lost signal. I had no idea where I was going without it, so I stopped at a little park just up ahead and waited for the GPS to reload. Since it was such a beautiful day, Mom and I decided to take a moment and have our lunch there.
We were enjoying the peaceful view overlooking Hamilton and the river, when we noticed a man walking in our direction from the other side of the park. He was only wearing a pair of shorts, some shoes, and a backpack. He looked kind of dirty. He was muttering something to himself as he walked along. He sat down at a bench, threw down the water bottle he was holding, and was rummaging in his backpack. He pulled out a pair of shoes, and changed them for the ones he was wearing. He closed his bag, picked up the water bottle and threw it out, all the while still mumbling to himself.
I was fixated on watching him for some reason. I was thinking all the while, what peculiar behaviour. As he started walking in our direction, I thought he might come over and talk to us. I have to admit that I was a bit anxious. Because of his odd behaviour, I was worried about what he would ask for or want to talk about. I started praying and asking God to give me the words if he approached us. I was thinking about what money I had in my wallet, and if I could “spare” a couple dollars to help him out, and send him on his way. But he didn’t approach us.
Instead of “bothering” anyone, he kept to himself and headed on the path back to the entrance of the park. As he was walking and talking, his words started to get louder. It was then that we realized he was singing the whole time. Much to our surprise, he started singing at the top of his lungs, ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, worthy is the King who conquered the grave…” When he was nearly out of the park, he yelled the name Jesus …JESUS!!! Instantly, I was filled with goose bumps and could feel every part of me get excited! I thought of the saying, “angels are among us”, and about King David: “David…danced with great abandon before God” (2 Samuel 6:16 The Message). This man did not care who was around or listening. He sang his heart out at the top of his lungs to praise the Lord with all his might. I was so excited that I almost starting singing it out with him! I was tempted to jump up, run over to him, and say thank you! But I think I was so awe-struck that I couldn’t move. It was like a moment in time that froze. I saw this man praise God and then he was gone!
As I thought about that moment and processed what had happened, humility hit. I had judged that man to be “just another” homeless man looking for money, or some weird guy, wanting to talk to us about who knows what. The reality of how prideful I was hit me. God blessed us with a profound moment that almost got lost in my fleshly judgments. What makes me any better of a person than him anyway? One minute, I am wanting to run from the guy, and the next, I’m wanting to embrace him like a brother.
We drove away grateful that my GPS originally lost its signal. I was thankful that God called us out to teach us at that moment; to hear that man worship Him, and in turn… we gave Him praise! I was grateful that He showed me the pride I was carrying against others in my heart, and the humility it was replaced with. I was reminded that day of the importance to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).
If I’m not loving others as myself, then I need to do a reality check of how I’m loving God. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.” God created all men, not just the ones like me. It is a blessing that He makes us all unique and different, so that we can love, edify, and build one another up in our own gifted ways. Life is tough on everyone. We all have our burdens to bear. Why not throw the unnecessary and unloving ones away and help one another as Christ calls us and desires us to? We are all “fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” (Psalm 139:14)
Every time I listen to the song that man sang called, “This is Amazing Grace”, I am reminded of that day, of God’s amazing grace, and of the call to humbly “love one another”.