What do you have?

Acts 3:1-10

Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

This sandwich was  provided by a homeless relief ministry in downtown Houston.

This sandwich was part of a meal provided by a homeless relief ministry in downtown Houston.

There is a homeless man who frequents an intersection near our home. He has a bicycle, a beard, and a happy demeanor. I have given him money on more than one occasion. I’ve even asked him his name, and had a more significant conversation with him. It seems he wants to live outdoors. “I get sick every time I try to live in a house,” he told me. More recently I learned that he doesn’t need money; he apparently uses any money he is given for liquor. I was told that by a person who works with homeless people, providing food, clothing, and toiletries to them – including “Clarence”.

Clarence needs something I don’t have, and that troubles me. In fact, moreover, he needs something he seems unwilling to embrace, and that troubles me even more: why would anyone want to live a homeless lifestyle? Why is his way of life so appealing to him? Not only does he not want to live in doors (for health reasons, he claims), but why, also does he want to live by taking hand-outs from the local homeless ministry and passers-by at the intersection?

More important, what do I have that he really needs? Peter had the authority and power of Jesus Christ to heal the lame beggar at the entrance to the temple. He had the ability to look him in the eye and request that the man do the same to him. Through that his life was radically changed. Jesus was honored, and people were amazed.

We’ve seen all too many things to be amazed anymore. We’ve seen too many homeless people to engage them one-on-one. We have too much money to say we don’t have silver and gold. What we don’t seem to have is the time and energy to enter into their lives and make a difference. I’m wondering today about what I do have. I’m reflecting today about what how I might purposefully invest myself into Clarence’s life. If I am to do this, I will need better margins in my own life, more patience to see what I actually have that Clarence truly needs, and the courage and boldness that comes from the Holy Spirit’s work in my heart and life.

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