I have about a 30 minute drive to and from work each day. For 15 of those minutes, I drive up and down Maple or Chestnut between Mckinley and Church. Where is Church street you ask? Exactly. Far. Southeast Fresno.
Some of the things I see each day are heartbreaking.
-The child walking to school by himself (on Chestnut/Church).
-The people pushing their shopping carts (with what I assume is all of their earthly possessions).
-The man walking by, exhaling a thick cloud of smoke (the kind that isn’t from cigarettes).
-They stray dogs.
-The dead dogs.
-The children running across the street in between cars.
-The high school aged kids, not in class, “cuddling” each other in front of the apartment building.
-The grown-ups yelling and screaming at each other in the parking lot of the liquor store.
-The woman waiting at the bus stop with her 4 young children.
-The man puking in the gutter.
I drive home aching for the LORD to return and “clean up” this dirty city. I long for Him to come, to rescue, to make right, to free those in bondage, to heal those that are sick, to bless the poor with all the riches in Christ! And as I’m praying for this I realize . . .
Sometimes I look away from things with disgust that I should be seeing with eyes of compassion.
-Isn’t the man pushing his shopping cart the man Jesus would’ve talked to?
-Isn’t the man who was sick in the gutter, the man Jesus would’ve healed?
-Isn’t the woman at the bus stop the woman Jesus would comfort?
-Aren’t the children running in and out of traffic the children Jesus would’ve welcomed in?
-Aren’t these the exact crowds that Jesus would’ve looked on and had compassion, “for they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd?”
Jesus didn’t look away in disgust. He looked on with compassion. Jesus entered in.
The sights that I see every day aren’t an accident. I don’t think the LORD intends for me just to look (or really, just to look away). He has shown me block after block that there are people all over this city that need to hear the HOPE of Christ and feel His love.
So why do I look away when I should enter in?
And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. (Matthew 9:35-38)
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.' (Matthew 25:35-40)