Going to Love Park each week has had its tolls on me now and again. One of the greatest and yet stressful times for me happens when we prepare to go each week and drive down to Love Park. I don’t know why that happens. Perhaps it is because I personally try hard to make sure everything goes just right. Perhaps my leaning on myself instead of the Holy Spirit has some reaction to that issue. Whatever the case, I am glad that I get to go. Even at the end of the day, being there helps me appreciate all I have and not take for granted the blessings of Christ.
When we arrived at Love Park, the smell of sweat was in the air. I do not know if anyone has ever smelled that before but it is off the charts unbearable. I actually have to try and keep my distance at first until I can allow myself to get used to all the smells my nose was experiencing all at once. It is funny to me how much I have gotten to know the people who show up each week. They know we are going to be there and that we are going to bring clothes and lunches. Many of them greet us and smile with their missing teeth in full view. Some of the older guys of the group just sit there, lounged out on a bench and glance over and make eye contact with us. That is our way of knowing they notice us and acknowledge that we are even there.
As I looked around, I saw this guy who I have seen each week for the past month and a half. He was the guy with the really, really longhair. He apparently has not cut his hair in almost 14 years. It was straight down his back to his mid section and was so matted and abused, it was horrible. I would not doubt that his hair weighted at least five lbs. As I watched him talk to one of our guys, I noticed that he kept hitting the side of his head with his hand while he talked. After several blows to his head, he would switch sides and do it to the other side of his head. He wouldn’t stop hitting his head. After a few moments, I figured out why he was doing that: He had lice and he had it really bad. Apparently, when he hit his head, the lice would fall out onto his jacket and relieve some of the itching in his head. The more he would knock out, the better he would feel. Throughout the whole night, this man continued to hit his head and knock these lice onto his jacket and pants, with some most likely hitting the ground. I wondered why he would not just cut his hair and watch it so that the eggs of the lice would die and he would be better. Later on that evening, this same man who had been hitting his head, relieving himself of his current issue would join us for prayer. He reached out his hands to hold two other people’s hands. I almost wanted to throw up, knowing how he had just spent all that time doing what he did. I almost feel bad that I chickened out in holding his hand by standing on the other side of the circle. I had an awesome opportunity to be Jesus to this guy and I miss the opportunity. I allowed the fear of lice to get in the way of that. Dear God, give me strength to give of myself to anyone I meet on the streets, no matter what the circumstance.
That night, I also saw my buddy, Greg. He had a great, big smile when I saw him. He was given an opportunity to maintain a full-time job at the place he was working and was given an hourly wage of 14.00 an hour. Over the past couple of months, Greg had been saving up his money in the bank. Having all this money saved, Greg is now able to get a decent apartment for he and his son. It would only be a matter of time now until they would be reunited to one another. This father/son duo really encourages me that God is the God of reconciliation. He truly goes beyond what you and I would expect.