Good morning, it is Wednesday, July 14, 2021
I have a dear, sweet friend who is writing a book. It has been my pleasure to read it and one of her stories really made an impact on me.
With her permission I am sharing a portion of that story today.
To set the story line, it was Christmas time. Elena and her husband lived on the Oregon Coast in Gold Beach. Their son and daughter-in-law were not able to come home for Christmas that year and so they decided to invite a homeless man to their home for the Christmas meal.
I will let Elena tell the story in her own words.
“His name was Bryan. He was a middle-aged man, homeless, with nothing but ragged, filthy clothes covering his tall, slender body.
We knew him from the fellowship hall at the church, where he came only for food, then went to his place under the Hunter Creek bridge. I asked him what he would need, planning to give him some presents when he came to our home on Christmas day.
Humbly, he told us that he would need a pillow and a clock. After we found out what size of shoes and clothes he wore, we bought a pair of leather boots, a thick wool sweater, a waterproof outfit and of course, a pillow and a watch.
On Christmas day we went under the bridge and found him crouched under a large bush.
We invited him in the car and brought him home…
He enjoyed the Christmas dinner with us and although incoherent in his speech, he told us something about his mother, whom he barely remembered…
We tried to tell him about God, His love toward each of us, then we offered Him our gifts. Everything suited him perfectly. With tears in his eyes and words of gratitude, Bryan confessed to us that the love with which we treated him he had received only from his mother.
We were glad we made him happy. At least for a while.
The following weekend, Bryan came to the fellowship hall as usual, but still in his rags, holding in his arms the new boots, clothes, and everything else we had given him for Christmas.
He came to us and with a sad face he returned the gifts to us, saying that he did not like them, that he did not feel good in them and that he did not need them.
Deeply saddened by Bryan’s refusal to accept our gifts, we took the things back and he quickly disappeared from our sight. We realized that he was not used to these "luxury items" and he felt more comfortable in his shabby clothes.
Shortly afterwards, we read in the newspaper that a homeless man was found dead, frozen under the Hunter Creek bridge. It was our Bryan, who never showed up at the Sabbath fellowship meal, after he returned the presents.
Don't we do the same with God's grace?
How often we reject His gift of salvation and refuse to allow Him to cleanse us and exchange our filthy rugs with His robe of love and compassion...!!!”
This story really touched me. Elena really hit home our hopeless state in sin. Yes, we so often will accept the gift Jesus gives us, but then it becomes uncomfortable for us, or we allow Satan to whisper in our ear that things were better living in our rags of sin and filth, under the bridge.
So often, like a fool, we return the good gift He freely gave us and return to our old ways.
Proverbs 26:11 ESV “Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.”
Jesus wants to take away our sin and clothe us with His pure robe of righteousness.
“…”Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” Zechariah 3:4 ESV
Friend, we cannot begin to comprehend what God has prepared for those who love Him. 1 Corinthians 2:9 tell us “…no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.” !!
Allow Him to clothe you with the garments of salvation. Allow Him to cover you with His robe.
Bryan died alone, under that bridge, having returned his good gifts. Do not let that be your story. Reach out, take the gift, keep the gift, embrace the gift of eternal life.
“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. Isaiah 61:10 ESV