Four blocks from Times Square, 1:25 am. I can not shake the image of a homeless man, sprawled out at a bus stop like a sacrifice waiting to be offered. When I approached him, he seemed near to death. I gently shook him until he stared blankly in my direction. He had pissed himself and his eyes were swollen from months of cheap liquor.
I learned his name, and his story. "Rick" shared with me that after his wife and daughter were killed in a car accident, he searched to God for comfort. But God didn't answer the door. His knocking had turned to anger, then despair. He lost his family, his job, and his faith. As far as he was concerned, Jesus had not been resurrected.
It was hard for me to reach out and actually embrace him. I confess, the stench was nauseating. I hesitated to reach out and feel his pain. His whole body "aches", and his bruises give evidence to a recent beating. He told me about his desire: to drink himself to oblivion, and wait for death.
What can I offer to a man who I will probably never see again? I chose my words carefully as I told him that although he had given up on God, God had not given up on him. I rarely suggest that God audibly "speaks" to me, but I told Rick that God told me to come here and tell him that he is loved. "God loves you, and He wants you to live."
What happens when all is lost? How does a 48 year-old man allow himself to wilt until he is no more?
Rick cried as he told me his story, and I just tried to listen without the distractions of a million indifferent pedestrians. He clutched the New Testament in his hands; a gift that could offer him the only hope for his Exodus.