A Kingdom Heart
We live in a culture dominated by outward appearance. I'm no exception. I realized this as I pondered my newfound friendship with a man named Bill (pictured here).
I met Bill two weeks ago as I was leaving my church’s office. I opened the door to a loud-voiced gentleman with worn shoes and baggy clothes who looked to be approaching 70, struggling to stay balanced on his bicycle. In his somewhat rambling Philly accent, it became clear he was looking for a separate building that contains the church’s ministry to help people obtain ID cards, which are necessary to apply for jobs, housing, and the like.
My mind quickly filled in the dots to the rest of his story before either of us had a chance to say hello. But I had a few minutes to spare, so I volunteered to walk him over to the correct building. Little did I know what would happen next, because “crazy” Bill—as his kind friends dubbed him—was a talker. And one with a fascinating story at that.
I walked Bill to the appropriate building for what I assumed would bring an end to our conversation, only to find that the office was closed for the day and Bill would have to come back tomorrow morning. So I decided to dig my heels in and get to know my new friend a little more. Bill proceeded to share a tragic tale of a troubled childhood, criminal activity, and four decades spent in prison.
This is a man society had forgotten. And yet, as he continued talking, the light of God’s Kingdom became evident in his heart. Granted, the packaging was rough, but scratch beneath the surface and you discover a man whose wounded heart enables him to show compassion to the helpless and forgotten.
I caught glimpses of God’s heart as Bill shared about providing a home for the stray animals that walk his streets, and protecting and defending vulnerable, drug-addicted women from predatory men. Bill’s stories remind me of the story of Jesus, who left heaven to rescue us from the dark places of life and provide us with an eternal home and place of love and security.
I am challenged by my encounter with Bill—as I hope you can be—to look past the outward appearance and stereotypes of people, neighborhoods, skin color, nationality, and anything in between so that we can truly listen to the inner workings of their heart. We may be surprised by what we find there.