I remember one of my college buddies, a fellow Bible student, daring to think that he might become a “drifter for Jesus.” He was actually from a very wealthy family that, as I understand it, hob-knobbed with big-shot politicians you might have heard of. So when this buddy began dreaming of cutting loose all his worldly possessions, getting a one-way ticket to Russia or China, and letting the wind and Jesus take him on a mystic’s journey and mission, it all sounded so spiritual and Romantic. I envied him for his fantasy.
Somehow, though, that buddy got re-grounded shortly before graduation. He did not unload all his worldly possessions and take off “drifting for Jesus.” Instead, he got married, had kids, bought a home and all that. And honestly, I can’t really see the benefit from that dream except for the sheer trust he would be putting in God for his daily living, but at what expense? Would he be a perpetual free-loader? Of course, part of the charm is the idea that you can’t really know those answers this side of that leap of faith!
But then I find some of my homeless brothers and sisters to be pretty mystical too. Not all of them. Not even most. But a handful of them are strongly convicting about it. Strong believers in Jesus who do not put their trust in stuff – in the complex commitments to mortgages, car loans, social clubs etc. They never have to face questionable dilemmas about what evils their 401K or other investment plans may or may not be funding. No. They are in the world, but not of it – so it appears.
And when you couple that loose societal connection with a strong familiarity with Scripture and what appears to be a habit of prayer and/or spiritual formation, you might really feel compelled to show the prophet a bit of respect. I mean especially if she isn’t asking for nothin’! You know… not begging for money or anything. I mean if one of THESE homeless people offer you a special blessing, you sense that you need to be very careful not to offend God by how you treat them.
We have one guy who (I feel confident everyone on the streets of Lubbock knows his name) dresses in toga sheets and sandals, carries a bag with his Greek/Hebrew Bible and a few needful things, but walks the streets blessing others. If you sit and talk with him a moment or two, you quickly see that this guy knows his Scriptures, practices spiritual piety, and has a very pastoral approach to others. He is a “drifter for Jesus” if ever there was one. In fact, I heard of him from other street people long before I met him, and THEY ALL called him “JESUS.”
He has a number of friends who, though they don’t dress like him, search the Scriptures and meditate together frequently. I have seen one of them (we will call him Agent M) on TV stating that he prefers to live outdoors. And I know this man’s heart for Jesus, and that he literally would give you the shirt right off his back if you asked for it. That is about all he’s got, but he will not withhold it from you if you ask!
I am not sure what to make of these homeless mystics. I trust that Jesus loves them, that they love him, that they are dedicated to serving him, and that Jesus is honored by their service. I could raise a lot of difficult questions beyond those observations; it is true. But I sense that I must do so with great care that I respect them as I do so. So, instead, I just call them “Brother” and “Sister” and try to learn from them as much as anything.
I point them out on this blog because I sense rather strongly that I have readers here who have NO IDEA about them. Likewise, I sense that lots of my friends and family, if they did have an idea about them, could EASILY dismiss these mystics amid contempt and thus dismiss the image of God. And, well, I would like to make this offering as a way to hopefully mitigate that.