Homeless

Over 500,000 people spend the night in shelters, cars, or on the street. A fourth of them are children. Numbers have decreased in some areas since 2015, but they are still far too high. There are many reasons for homelessness, but I tend to latch onto the ones that make me feel less guilty about the desperation they face. They are drug addicts; they are alcoholics; they brought it on themselves; they are lazy. All these are excuses help me sleep soundly in my nice, warm bed at night.

The truth is much deeper and more disturbing. The homeless are lost in a world that barely notices them. Most suffer from mental illness, have serious addictions, financial losses, or have a heart or body that is broken beyond their ability to heal. They are caught in vicious cycles that never seem to end. Most Americans are only three months away from being on the streets themselves, and a job loss or catastrophic illness shortens that time dramatically.

During this special time of the year, our attention is turned toward a young couple who found themselves searching for a place to sleep. Away from home and expecting a new baby any day, they desperately needed a place to rest after their long journey. The only place available was a cave where lambs were birthed. Appropriate in that Christ was, is, and will always be, the Lamb of God.

Mary and Joseph were not homeless, but they did experience the angst of being away from home and not able to find a place to sleep for the night. Christ was born out in the open where animals were sleeping, yet His humble beginning marked a turning point for this planet. When I see those forced to sleep out in the open with open arms and an open heart, God creates a new turning point in my own heart that puts both me and the planet a little closer in line with His heart. That vicious cycle begins to look more like the loving circle His heart desires.

Open House and Open Heart

Climbing up the mountain is much easier with company; my hikes with Rita are proof of that. Walking, like living, is better together. When we come to the steep hills, we get quiet and work our way up the mountain. Knowing I’m not alone is a big motivation, and that’s why sweet loving connections are so important on this journey. It’s literally true as I walk up Indian Creek or figuratively so as I navigate the rough patches in life. Having someone walk beside me makes all the difference in life.

Living with my son and his family has been an amazing blessing, and I love that our home is on a beautiful mountaintop. I’ve been climbing, falling, and getting back up for sixty years, but I’ve found the same sweet sense of peace that comes when arriving home after a long and difficult trip. I’m not sure how God will work out the details, and I don’t even know if He will keep me here; but I do know I am where I need to be right now. There have been many changes in my life over the past few years, but the biggest one has been the change in the way I see my life and my heart. God placed the most amazing view of the western horizon right outside my bedroom door, and I marvel at how that view has changed the way I see HIm and myself.

I cannot help but stare in awe when I stop and take in His handiwork. I love to look at the beautiful view as I pray because I see His presence in the majestic mountains whether they are sunny and clear, nestled in the fog, or under an impending storm. My favorite time of day to pray is at sunset, and God always puts on an amazing display as we sit together and recall the day. I’m learning to listen as never before, and that makes the trip to the mountaintop worth all the climbing.

I’m also learning the importance of openness when it comes to loving and living together. Life and love are meant to be in the open, and that changes my heart in a very beautiful way. God has brought me to a home that is wide open inside and out. The sun rises on the front of our home and sets on the back; the town lies on the south side, and the quiet northern side sits quietly in the shade of beautiful plants and trees.

Getting to the top of the mountain is about finding openness. The summit allows me to see all that surrounds me. God made it clear this morning that love and life belong in the open. He knows my heart has been hidden away for far too long. He asks me to look at all that surrounds me and bids me to open my heart so He can have His way with it. God’s ways are all about truth, and truth flourishes in open hearts that share honest communion.

Love is what makes my hikes with Rita a joy. Love is also what makes life a joy-filled journey when shared with an openness that allows my heart to see in and be seen from all directions. With openness, comes reckoning, and that often brings deep hurt as God’s ways and mine collide. Giving up what I want isn’t easy, but holding on to it means missing the panoramic view He has of the world and heart He desires for me. Now that He’s given me a glimpse of that world and that heart, I know that I cannot settle for less.

Seeing life and love from God’s summit makes the climb worth the while and allows me to live in God’s Spirit in a way that changes my heart.

The view