So, I had to take a brief trip to Colorado, and without going into any of the itinerary, let me just say that I haven’t visited my home state much in recent years, and it’s been at least 6 years since I visited Pueblo and Colorado Springs. I have been aware that these cities deal with issues of homelessness for years, but I rarely, if ever, saw it there with my own eyes. But much like I reported two months ago after my brief trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico, I feel overwhelmed with the mobs of homeless beggars I see with my own eyes just while passing through. I’m in town hardly 30 minutes, and not even poking around in the barrio or industrial areas, but merely running through a drive-thru between the filling station and the supermarket a few blocks away from the interstate, and there they are – BEGGARS EVERYWHERE!
I am grieved by the development. Just so many. I grew up passing through these towns, doing business in them, and thinking of them as wonderful places to have fun and see the best of God’s creation. These may not be my HOMETOWN, but they are still HOME to me. Towns of my HOMELAND. Places you send post cards from when you visit, but now overrun with HOMELESS.
Wouldn’t you know it. I have babies in the car with me getting cranky while I am waiting for Mrs. Agent X to complete her appointment. I have an idea. I will run through the drive-thru and get some French fries and a drink for them, then pull over under some shade while we wait. It shouldn’t be even an hour before we are rolling again, and I don’t want to unload everybody, chase kids around, break a sweat, put them all back in their seats, pack the car back up, and then roll.
See the difference?
Yeah. It’s a cheap idea, but it should keep everybody smiling while we wait, I think. But then I think about all the beggars on the lot hitting up traffic for loose change. I don’t have any. I got babies in plenty and no loose money. Suddenly I think I need to NOT park under a shade tree around HERE. I will spend all my time dealing with beggars (which normally I would love to do, ironically) at the expense of the urchins I have with me already. And anyway, the foster agency would probably frown on me taking the foster kids to the streets in ministry, so I start looking for a shady stop nearby, but away from the begging action.
That’s when I saw it.
Just a couple blocks up the road. A church, and not just any church but one of MY KIND. A “church of Christ” denomination. I belong to THAT kind! That’s MY people!!! If I showed up there for Sunday worship and told them I live in Lubbock and worship with the church of Christ there, I don’t doubt for one minute that I would meet people who know people I know if they don’t already know me.
And look! They have shade trees! I don’t need much from these brothers, just 20 minutes peace in a shady parking spot… right?
So I pull into the lot, crossing two lanes of busy traffic with a left turn. I was invested by this time. But as I pulled in the lot, the first thing I saw by way of greeting was a sign telling me it’s “Private Property” and “No Trespassing”, “No Loitering”, and “No Camping”!
Wow! No wonder there’s no danger of getting mobbed by beggars here! Suddenly it occurred to me that I was probably just a bit too needy for this bunch myself. If I were to avail 20 minutes of peace in a shady spot on that lot, it very likely would constitute “trespassing” and “loitering” and if the judge is particularly harsh, they might even get me for “camping”. I suddenly didn’t feel welcome by this group of Jesus-loving people. So I u-turned my way right out of the lot.
But as I sat there waiting for an opening in traffic so I could make a left turn onto the busy street and be on my way, making sure not to overly burden Jesus with my needs, I looked up and saw a message on the church marquee which said, “Feel puzzled? God is your missing peace.”
Clever, don’t you think?
Yeah, and it also occurred to me that I wasn’t going to find my missing peace there at that church. So I snapped a couple photos and left.
I have an idea that this church problem isn’t just a Lubbock thang.
“Welcome to church!” YES!
Now “KEEP OUT!” Oh no!