This begins the story - my true story - of how I helped a young man who was made homeless and was sleeping in a tent. Patrick changed my life and I hope that as I share his journey - and mine - in Sundays with Patrick that it will bring a blessing into your own life - and now, the beginning of Sundays with Patrick--
"A man's past is simply that--in the past. It's gone like rain that beats down on the earth and then dissipates into nothing. The past is meant to be left there--it doesn't belong in today. In order to move forward you must first leave behind the remnants of your yesterday."
Most of us would never know where to begin if we had to pitch a tent and live in it--even for a night. And for most of us, too, we cannot even begin to wrap our minds around a life like that but sad as it may seem, it happens. Oh it's fun if we think about it in terms of camping in a RV Park or out in the wild west for a vacation, that sort of thing, but what would any of us do "if" a tent was our home?
Patrick spent time off and on in a tent and when life came crashing down around him, I offered to help. What was this young man's darkest moment turned out to be his shining light. I like to tell people to look "for the light" shining in your darkness, whatever it may be.
A long time supporter of the local mission, I took Patrick there to help him begin the journey toward his "turnaround". He had been in a long season of disappointment, hurt and abandonment and then "hope" stepped in when he went to the mission.
A mission is not for everyone. We all have issues and some of them are best handled elsewhere but for some, like Patrick, a mission is their lifeline to a different kind of future.
He needed an anchor, someone to care and to show him that his past didn't matter but his today mattered so he could change his tomorrow. Someone once told me that yesterday is a cancelled check, tomorrow is a promissory note and today is "cash in hand". I took that to heart and always remembered it.
We often throw away today because we cling to the cancelled check of yesterday and we don't realize that tomorrow is really not promised to anyone.
That first day at the mission, Patrick was afraid, well, okay, a better word was terrified, but then who could blame him? He was thrown into the rushing wind of chaos and change does not come easily for anyone, especially anyone who has been in a tent or on the street.
Being homeless is cold and lonely and sometimes the homeless become filled with a bitter venom because they have been "thrown to the wolves" so to speak.
Patrick was rescued that day not because it was me but because God acted through me. I will always believe that. My mother once told me that I couldn't help everyone and she was right (Mama never told me anything that was wrong). None of us can help everyone, neither can we save every person, but the sad reality is that oftentimes we don't save who we can--we don't rescue the ones that need to be rescued and we don't rescue them with the only ingredient that really matters. Love. Love is all that matters.
In love there is hope and there is a safe haven, if we love for the right reasons and love with an open heart and open hand, without expectation of what might or might not return to each of us.
This is the story of Patrick's beginning and his journey toward a different destination.
"Never burn a bridge that you might have to walk back over again. Put a candle on the bridge and let it help you find your way home."