When I was on the streets every once in a while someone would have pity on me and bring me a Bible. More often than not it was one of those sturdy Gideon’s with that hard plastic cover. They were pretty small containing just the New Testament, Palms, and Proverbs. This didn’t bother me as I was extremely interested in what Christ had to say. Secretly hoping, I suppose, to find some redemption for myself.
Back in those days I liked to spend my time in the sun usually behind some building with my back against the wall. I had one of those too tan, tans you see on a lot of homeless people.
I would lose stuff all the time and after a few years if I didn’t have a Bible on me I didn’t feel comfortable and would seek one out at the Salvation Army or a church somewhere.
Christ’s central message is easy to understand with the mind: love God, love people and forgive everything they do to you. The trick is to get the heart to understand and put it into practice.
Living on the streets I was struck by the book of James and still peruse it quite often. He tells us that God’s word is already implanted in our hearts. That is very comforting to me. At our core we are all children of the most high. I try remember that when someone starts provoking me and making me cranky.
Christ confirms this by telling us that, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” However he also tells us that both good and evil come out of our hearts. What is this evil? Well in my mind it is called being human. The heart is our emotional center home to our peace, love and joy, but also home to jealousy, shame, fear, envy, sadness,anger, loneliness, you name it.
So the question becomes how do we go about purifying our hearts so to speak? Well, in my mind there are a lot of ways, but James gives us a clue when he writes, “Count it a blessing when you face trials of every sort.” That is his first sentence and bears repeating. “Count it a blessing when you face trials of every sort.” In other words be grateful for whatever life throws your way whether you count it good or bad.
Now most folks would consider being homeless a major trial and I did too of course. Hating and judging myself, feeling sorry for myself, and envious of everyone I thought had it better than me. It took God six long years to change my very prideful mind.
Toward the end of my street journey I wrote this metaphysic: Happiness requires no requirements, and that is the truth of things. It is a blessing just to be alive and searching my heart for that implanted word. You don’t need much stuff to do that, as Christ put it, “The Kingdom of heaven is within.”
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