It was bad – an unfortunately familiar smell. A homeless man, saturated in cheap liquor and his own pee, sat inside the cafe beside the door to our gathering room. No one said anything to me about it, but I could tell by their inquisitive glances they were wondering “What are we going to do?” It was horribly breathtaking. We looked through bags of clothes that had been donated for times like this, but couldn’t find anything to fit him.
What WERE we going to do?
As the first song began I took that question to Jesus, and asked for wisdom and almost instantly the answer came – “Welcome him.” I’ve learned by now not to argue with Him, so I didn’t. I walked over – introduced my self – he introduced himself as Wayne- and we shook hands.
“I’m glad you’re here Wayne.”
“Thank you, it’s been a while since I was here.”
“I see you have some coffee, can we get you anything else?” His hands were bright red from spending the night in the cold. His eyes were watery, he was hunched over, arms wrapped around his urine-soaked body.
“You had to camp last night, huh?”
“Wayne – are the only clothes you have the ones you’re wearing right now?” He looked at me almost fearful. He knew.
“Yes.” He looked at the floor.
“Can we get you some new clothes to change into?”
“That would be nice.”
I asked his sizes and sent one of our leaders to Family Dollar down the road to get him some new – everything.
Wayne went to change and clean up in the bathroom. The smell lingered, all day.
As I lay in bed last night thinking about Wayne, I felt the Holy Spirit ask me this question. “Shannon how do you think your sin smells to me?” I knew the answer. “And yet . . . I welcome you to come be with me, offering you new clothes – ‘a ring and a robe’ – a fresh start – every time.”
Does your life stink?. Are you isolated from God and others? God says “You are welcome.” He has something for you, if you’ll accept it. He’s not put off by the stench of your life. He will clean you up when you get to Him – He has new clothes for you and a fresh start.
And that . . . is amazing grace. . . and it smells oh so good.