I got off the train just now, heading for my office. A man was at the corner of Huron and Franklin, clearly homeless and asking for any spare change. As people avoided him and continued on to work, I knew the Holy Spirit was prompting me to talk to him. I walked over and he said, “Could you help me – I’m hungry?” I had a grocery bag full of food and said, “Here, would you like any of this food?” “Actually”, he said, “I would love a turkey sandwich.” We happened to be near a little coffee shop and I told him I’d be back with some food.
I made sure he got the best turkey sandwich with all that he liked on top of it, and I also threw in a slice of marble pound cake, just thinking, “If I was hungry, I sure would love a slice of cake!” Hoping his tummy would be blessed until his next meal, I handed the food over to him. He was SO excited and gave me a hug. The once-white-now-dirt-stained jacket was wrapped around my back and his wrinkly-calloused hands gripped my shoulders. As he pulled away, I asked, “Sir, could I get your name. I would love to pray for you.”
“Ralph Jordan is my name!”, he exclaimed as his eyes glittered and then he took me by the arm. “Let’s go for a walk!” So we began to walk down the street and he stopped me. “Miss, will you promise me 2 things?” Oh no, what was he about to ask. Great, I had just dug a hole and I didn’t know how I was going to get out of it. I didn’t know how to respond because who knew what he would ask?! Luckily, he continued without a response, “Miss, promise me you’ll always remember 2 things that I share with you. First, look at your reflection in this building (we were standing outside of an office with the reflective windows). Do you see another set of footprints?” “No”, I said. “There always are ma’am, no matter if you see them or not, and when you can’t see your own, maybe that means He’s carrying You.” I couldn’t help but tear up, just wondering and hoping that Who Ralph was speaking of is the very same Love of my life as well. “Second thing ma’am, promise me you’ll always remember John 3:16.” I just stared at him in the face, and the verse that has become so cliche in Christian circles hit me square in the heart. All I could say was, “Amen, yes sir, I will.”
Then he began, “Ma’am, for God soooo loved the world…” and he then looked to me to finish, “that He gave His one and only Son” — Maybe for the first time in a long time, the powerful words of the gospel in this small/misused verse just pierced my heart anew — God gave Jesus for this World and amazingly, I am a part of that great gift — “that whosoever believes in Him…”, and I finished, with the weight of the gospel falling fresh upon us both, “will not perish but have everlasting life.”
“Promise me you’ll always remember these 2 things, ma’am?”
“Yes Ralph, I pray that I always will.” As I choked back tears, he looped his arm again in mine and from the top of his lungs, Ralph began to sing praise and worship songs all down the street!!! As uncomfortable as it honestly was at first, I began to think about how awesome God is:
- Ralph, who is my brother and happens to be homeless, is worshiping Jesus unashamedly down the streets of a very “proper” and wealthy neighborhood in Chicago;
- I thought about how poor he is, but yet, richer than I because he gets the magnitude of God’s love and the riches of belonging to Jesus Christ;
- I realized there are still deeper places of love and sacrifice to the King that I haven’t even embarked upon because the cares of this world easily entangle me and keep me from living a life completely given over to Him.
Ralph gets Jesus and he loves him unashamedly to the point where he will not only tell me, this white, middle class woman a thing or 2 about what Life is really about.
When I thought about all this (and truly still, my brain is racing with so much that I can’t capture it all), Ralph’s love for Jesus, his ministry to me that was like a voice of prophecy, and us walking arm-in-arm down Huron Street, I humbly put my pride aside and began singing at the top of my lungs with him, “THIS LITTLE LIGHT OF MINE, I’M GONNA LET IT SHINE, LET IT SHINE, LET IT SHINE!!!”
For as Ralph so wonderfully reminded me, “Ma’am, we have so much to be thankful for in Jesus! Keep Him number One for He is number one and remember to keep your promise not forgetting – Jesus is always walking with You and John 3:16.”
Oh Jesus, that the Bride will NEVER forget the Bridegroom and the entire reason that You came down to earth. Thank you – THANK YOU Lord for Ralph Jordan. Continue to use my rich brother to declare to us who are destitute in heart, the riches we have always in Christ Jesus. Then may we in turn live our lives unashamedly, letting Your light shine so brilliantly and declaring Your glorious praise ~ amen