Quote for your day:
Discipline is the foundation upon which all success is built. Lack of discipline inevitably leads to failure. -Jim Rohn
Proverb for Nov. 29: Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.
Barring unforseen tragedy/breakdown, we expect copies of Deep Roots to arrive Friday. It’s going to be worth the wait as I firmly believe it is my best book to date. I look forward to sharing it with you.
This is one of my favorite stories from Deep Roots.
A Homeless Lady in Dry Creek.
And Jesus said, when you have done it unto the
least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me.
– Matthew 25:40
When the teenager saw me, he sprinted over. “Bro. Curt, there’s a homeless lady inside the Tabernacle, and she won’t let any of us help her.”
“A homeless lady in Dry Creek?” I let the shock register on my face.
A knot of youth joined him, assuring me it was true. One of them grabbed my arm and led me toward the Tabernacle. Nearing, I could hear the loud music of the band and hundreds of voices singing, “Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. Open the eyes of my heart.”
At the main door, a woman burst out, nearly knocking me down. She wore ragged layers of clothing, carried several plastic shopping bags stuffed with who knows what, and looked as if she was trying to escape from something or someone. Right behind her were several other campers desperately trying to stop her. As she swept by, I futilely grabbed at her elbow. In spite of how quickly she moved by, I could detect her body odor and the unmistakable mix of mildewed clothing and mothballs.
I noticed that she was hugging a new Bible against her breast and carrying a bottle of water in her other hand. In the Bible I could see a $10 bill sticking out. Ignoring my plea to stop, she brushed by and headed toward the highway. Deep inside, I was happy to see her headed that direction and away from the camp.
Several of these “would-be Good Samaritan” campers walked briskly imploring her to stay. The remaining teens begged me to stop her so they could give her money, food, and encouragement. Several of them had tears in their eyes as they implored me to “do something.”
Watching her disappear along Highway 113, I told them: “We can’t help this lady. She doesn’t belong here at our camp among a bunch of godly teens.” I thought the campers were going to jump me! Their faces registered a mixture of disgust, pain, and disappointment in my callous remarks.
Then I told them the truth. “That lady was a test for all of you. She’s not really a homeless lady. In fact she lives nearby in Ragley. She had hidden her nice car down the road and walked onto the campgrounds. I had asked her to come dressed as a homeless lady as a test to see how our campers would react. Each of you passed the test—in fact, you passed it with flying colors. We’ve talked all week about ministering in the name of Jesus to hurting folks. You went out and put that talk into action with your concern. The gifts of money, bottled water, a Bible, and your concern were good and right.”
As I told the whole story about this “spiritual speed trap,” I thought one of the girls was going to hit me with her Bible! I explained how the first time two years previously, when this lady showed up at a camp weekend retreat, she was unknown to our workers. Staff member Dwayne Quebedeaux kept trying to help her until she finally whispered under her breath, “Hey man, quit pestering me. I’m not really a homeless lady. I’m doing this to see what reaction the ladies at this retreat will have. Give me some room.”
I reassured our teen staffers how proud I was of them. The fact that the sight of another person in need did not drive them away, but instead stirred their hearts to action was good, right, and compassionate. Caring hearts will respond not just with words, but also with deeds and action. That is why the homeless lady was carrying all types of gifts given as tokens of the concern of these campers.
Later that evening I called our “homeless lady.” On the phone, I told her, “I’m nominating you for an Academy Award. You were authentic, even down to the smell!”
She replied, “I thought some of those kids were going to knock me down they were so helpful!” I thanked her for taking time to “show a sermon” and test the hearts of these precious campers.
As I mentally reviewed the aggressive compassion of our campers I thought of this quote, “She is such a good friend that she would throw all of her friends in the water just for the sake of being able to fish each of them out.”
Pondering over it later, I wondered why some campers were moved to instant action at the sight of this homeless lady while others, who may have also been concerned, took no steps in getting involved.
There is only one word that can explain the actions of the teenagers who “attacked” the homeless lady with love: Compassion.
Compassion. It’s another of my favorite words.
An action word that moves beyond concern, even caring.
Yes, compassion—the beautiful word that our campers showed Dry Creek’s only “homeless lady” on that memorable day.
When he (Jesus) saw the crowds, he was deeply moved with compassion for them, because they were troubled and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd
I’ll be in Ft. Worth today visiting various ministries. Among them will be several groups who take care of the urban homeless.