Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Witness

I just witnessed a man being bound by handcuffs and placed into a police car. I can’t recall, as I sit here, ever having seen this in my sheltered life before. It wasn’t really a shock to me other than knowing the life I’ve lived, it is a little surprising that I haven’t seen or experienced this before. I write this today as a witness to this thing which for some reason wasn’t that shock but instead… it seemed to do something to my heart. It appears that it has stirred something deep inside of me that weeps for this man. Now before you start thinking I’m being all bleeding heart liberal, I confess that I do not know this man’s story. I cannot tell you where he came from or where he was headed. I know nothing about his guilt or innocence. I did see little snippets which led me to believe that he was a traveler with no home. That he was probably coming off the highway and stopped in to “grab” some supplies before continuing on his journey. I think that it was probably the “grabbing” part that led him to the moment that I witnessed as I was loading my supplies (groceries, which still sit in backs, waiting to be put up) into my very nice pickup truck. Still, something about the scene I witness sets heavily in my heart. It could be that I was in one of the nicer sections of town. I was in an area that recently got a facelift, due to the building of a very nice winery, shops and hotel. It could be the crowd of people gathered around, some smiling with curiosity as this man was being taken away. I hope those aren’t really the reasons that something in me feels broken about what I witnessed, because I hope that I will not be judged in that manner when my time comes, as just an onlooker who just sees part of the story.
I can’t help but be disturbed over the fact that I have some much and was filling my truck with even more, while watching someone who just needed a little more was being led away by police. I sit here in the middle of my plenty, wondering what else was in that back pack other than what he had taken. As I was leaving, the policemen (God bless our servicemen, all of them) was getting ready to go through this guys back pack. I almost stayed an extra couple minutes to see what would be pulled out. In that moment, it occurred to me that the bag could contain everything this guy owned. What was in there… a bag of chips, some nabs, a fresh pair of socks, an additional t-shirt, a bottle of water… I’m not saying that stealing is right or that this man is justified in his actions but rather, I cannot help but wonder what the world would look like if I was more willing to let loose of all that I have and be more generous to those who don’t have. Even now, when I say world, I don’t mean “The World” but rather that inner part of me that wonders if I could have made a difference in this man’s life. Maybe not a difference at the exact moment I was a witness too but maybe in some point leading up to that moment. I don’t know… and I don’t know that I have the answers but I do know that something about this story isn’t right. That if Jesus were here, that the outcome would have been different.

Isaiah 58:6-10 (New Living Translation)
6 “No, this is the kind of fasting I want:
Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;
lighten the burden of those who work for you.
Let the oppressed go free,
and remove the chains that bind people.
7 Share your food with the hungry,
and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
and do not hide from relatives who need your help.
8 “Then your salvation will come like the dawn,
and your wounds will quickly heal.
Your godliness will lead you forward,
and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind.
9 Then when you call, the LORD will answer.
‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.
“Remove the heavy yoke of oppression.
Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors!
10 Feed the hungry,
and help those in trouble.
Then your light will shine out from the darkness,
and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.

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