At around 6 pm, the homeless started flooding in under that bridge, they came from everywhere. There were young and old men and women, widows, moms, dads, grandparents, pregnant women, newly married couples, and children. Some came drunk, some came high, and most of them came with nothing at all. There was something different about these people though. They came with a joy that only Christ could give, a joy that defies circumstances. They came with a hope, a hope that keeps them going, and a love that never fails.They weren't hopeless, they weren't downtrodden, they weren't scared or fearful. They came with what they had, which was next to nothing, but they weren't ashamed of it. They know and understand something that most of us don't. We can come just as we are to the foot of the cross, we don't have to get dressed up, put make up on, or put on some kind of show. They praised Christ, and bowed down at His feet, with the cross before them and the world behind. They understand that the very presence of Christ Jesus is all they need, it is their breath and life. They are so dependent on him for their every need that they have a faith that is unshakable, and it changes the way they worship. Person after person went up to the front and sang amazing grace (wether they had a good voice or not..) and declared the amazing grace that has been shed on their life with everything they had in them. Hands were lifted high in awe of their creator.
As I sat there watching them worship I was overwhelmed. I've grown up in an context where I've never had to worry about not eating, not having clothes to wear, or a roof over my head. I've been taught the Gospel since the day I was born. BUT- here is the beauty of the mysterious mercy of God- I had absolutely nothing to do with where I was born. So why me? Why them? Why have I been blessed with everything I ever needed, and a good Christian home? Why do they have to live on the streets, begging for food, in constant danger, with very little clothing, and no place to call their home?I may never know, but I have been completely captivated by this mystery of mercy, and it has compelled me to a ministry of mercy. I long to make the story of redemption known among the physically and spiritually destitute.
A man in his early 70s came from behind the bridge and hobbled up to the back of the food line. He was crippled and could barely walk. I grabbed his plate of food, to take it to his chair for him, and he stopped and looked me in the eye. He was holding tightly to the necklace he was wearing. He began to unfold his hand to show it to me, and in the process, a huge smile lit up his face. I was brought to tears as he showed me the nail he had formed into the shape of the cross and wore around his neck. With all the excitement his 70 year old body had left in it, he said to me, "Do you see this??!!! Do you like it?!! I am a Christian and this is my cross!!". The first thing he wanted to make known to me was that he was a Christian, that he was a son of the most high God. And the first thing he wanted to show me was the cross that he wore everyday resembling the cross that he carries everyday. Why aren't we so completely overjoyed all the time, no matter what our circumstances, that we want to tell every single person we come across that we bear the name of Christ like this man does?
There was a spot on the Jefferson Street bridge that caught my attention. It was a place that had been graffitied, but it was marked out, and painted over. The words were no longer legible because the word JESUS washed over it. That was such a beautiful picture of the work that is being done under the bridge. Lives are being saved, redeemed, and healed, and hope is being given to countless hearts.A fire for Christ has been lit in the hearts of these people in Nashville, and it is so contagious that they can't contain it, and they can't control it. I never cease to stand amazed at the way God moves, and the way God works.