Homeless in San Francisco

Homeless Woman

San Francisco.  Home of amazing sour dough bread, trolley cars, fresh seafood and one of the most diverse populations ever held in one city.  As I write this I am sitting in the fancy lobby of the Hilton in Union Square, where we have been staying for the last few days while my husband attends what I like to refer to as a “nerd conference,” featuring some of the latest and greatest in the computer programming world.  As you can imagine, my head began to ache just walking amongst the throng of this populace.  I came to relax, to turn my brain off for a bit, and to just enjoy being alone.  So, I ventured out into the big city of San Francisco all by myself.

I walked. I watched.  I even stepped out of my comfort zone and started conversations with others.  And I prayed.

And then I saw, really saw, possibly for the first time….the homeless.

I was undone.

How many times have I ignored the fact that they exist? Or judged them?  Or reminded myself it was just not my problem, what could I possibly do?

But as I walked the streets I was filled with so many thoughts I had never had before and it hit me:  these are our modern day lepers.  These are those who society has outcast, they are the forgotten, the unclean, the untouchable.

Yet, these are the very ones that Jesus would have hung out with, and even more shocking…he would have touched them!  And I am profoundly humbled to say that for the very first time I was struck by the fact that God profoundly loves them.  Deeply, passionately and completely loves them…just as much as he loves me.

They are someone’s daughter, son, father, mother, aunt, uncle or cousin.  They each have a story.  How did they get here? What happened in their story that landed them here, on the streets of San Francisco?  What mother or father looked at them as babies and thought, “One day, dear one, you are destined to be a homeless beggar.”  None.  And yet…there they are, in a situation they probably never saw coming.

And so I sit here and wonder.  I wonder if maybe Jesus had it right.  He made it simple: love.  Love!  A command, a verb, not a warm fuzzy feeling.  I do not know exactly what that love looks like in every situation.  However, I am wondering if our eyes are fixed on Jesus, and our focus is his love, then maybe it will change our actions…and maybe, just maybe, God will use it to change the lives of those whose paths we cross.

One thing I am certain of, even as I fall guilty of it, is that my judgement accomplishes nothing.  But God’s perfect love can change anything; and for some reason which I truly do not understand, he wants to use us.  He wants to demonstrate his love and power through us.  So, the question then becomes this: are we willing?