My son saw me loading this sketch and asked, “Is that Jesus?”
A Jack and Lars Update
I haven’t seen Jack since some time in October. I was in Tim Horton’s, frustrated that I needed to get a job and couldn’t just make it happen, angry that any job would take away time from me being able to hang out with Jack or anyone else on the street, and annoyed that every time I saw Jack I was buying him lunch or coffee. Not that I begrudged him those things. He needed them. But the catch of needing a job so I could afford to do this kind of stuff with this guy–and even more so–but knowing that the job would take me away from it all, well that just sucked. It also sucked that every time I “made an appointment” to catch up with Jack at some place on a certain day, he wouldn’t show. I was in a bad mood when I left Tim’s, and I haven’t seen Jack since, even though I’ve looked for him.
Lars, however, I’ve seen a lot. It’s just hard to write about. I keep bringing him granola bars because that’s all the food he’ll take. He hides them in his coat pockets or up his sleeves so no one else can find them…
One day I went to hand him some granola bars and my free hand touched his shoulder. It was just a point of contact, a natural move, maybe two seconds long. But in that moment my eyes popped open and I saw Jesus hugging this guy. The kind of hug that’s a lift-you-off-your-feet-cuz-I’m-so-much-stronger-than-you hug, but at the same time one that just held him. Through that simple touch, Jesus embraced this guy.
When was the last time he was hugged? Touched kindly? Lovingly?
I almost cried out, the experience was so jarring.
I couldn’t write about it, didn’t dare think about it for months. I’d be driving on that side of town and know I’d need to go visit and feed this guy, and I’d want to hang out with him and say nothing, but the Jesus aspect of it made it hard. I’d still go, but it was hard.
Why? Because Jesus was self-identifying with this guy.
With this guy who hasn’t bathed in forever. Who can’t lift his head up anymore. Who can’t look you in the eye.
And when Lars had to switch locations (he moved storefronts) and stopped finding an alley to urinate in but just sat there, half asleep, peeing through his pants, a long puddle trickling away on the pavement, he really began to smell. It became difficult to breathe around him or have a conversation.
But I kept going. It’s getting worse. He’s more filthy, more beaten down…
But Jesus loves him. Jesus identifies with him. Lars is so broken he can do next to nothing to help himself. He certainly can’t lift himself out of the pit he is in.
And we are all the same. He is wretched, poor, and needy. We, in our sins, are wretched, poor, and needy–unable to save ourselves at all. We need Jesus.
Being with Lars makes the gospel so clearly a gift. We cannot earn our hugs from Jesus.
But we can find him on the street corner and gently touch his shoulder.