It was a wet and rainy night today on the streets of Whalley. My friends Courtnee, Trevor and Luke spent the evening with me, helping at Nightshift (http://www.nightshiftministries.org/). After we served a hot meal and handed out warm clothing to the homeless, we gathered around to pray in a circle and share some thoughts from the night.
The rain kept falling down upon us as we stood together, hand in hand. After one of the Nightshifts leaders opened in prayer, a few of the guys began opening up. One guy thanked God for all of his friends, the Nightshift volunteers, for coming out to spend the evening with him and asked that God would bring us strength. He continued on, this time praying for all of us…. volunteers and street friends…“God, would we stop believing the LIES that we tell ourselves…” I was humbled by his wisdom. As he continued on, another man beside him piped up… “You’re never too far gone! NEVER too far gone….never too far gone…. NEVER too far gone…” He just kept repeating that and repeating that.
…”You’re never too far gone”- spoken truth by the words of a homeless man…
So often these people are the ones overlooked by our Canadian society. To us, they are just dirty, loud, smelly and take advantage of our otherwise clean parks and neighbourhoods. We lock our car doors when we drive down Hastings street in Vancouver, we shake our heads when we see them panhandling for money at the street corner and we adjust our walking path if we see them coming our way down the sidewalk. Yet, they are praying that they stop believing the lies about themselves and want us all to know that we are never too far gone. Oh, how quickly we forget.
We forget that these people have families and often come from situations beyond their control that led them to life on the streets. One man that frequently gets his daily dinners at Nightshift shared with my friend that he is living on the streets now because a few years ago he lost his wife and son in a car accident and it became too much for him to bear. It was his breaking point. He checked out and before long, found himself on the streets. Now he survives off of the dinners and clothing donations from compassionate people who run Nightshift.
I would doubt that he is alone in his story… many people have found themselves on the streets for various reasons… it is not always a choice, although sometimes it can become a street lifestyle of self-designation. We can fall victim to the lies that tell us we can’t succeed or that our lives aren’t worth it… but regardless of who we are or what we have walked through in life, we are never too far gone.
I heard once that we are all a mere three paycheques away from life on the streets. It could be any of us. So quickly. Thankfully, there are compassionate people all around to stand with us when we struggle on our own. People who believe, even when we don’t, that we are never too far gone.
So the next time that you see a homeless man on the streets, or a woman standing on a corner waiting for customers, or the difficult co-worker that you have to see every day, or the student that you don’t think can learn, or perhaps even yourself…as you doubt your capabilities or reflect on your past failures….. just remember, you’re never too far gone.