I have been taking the same route to school and work for the past two years now. Almost daily, I make the drive down Alondra Blvd. and make my way towards the 605 freeway. There is a light, just before the on ramp, that used to always be green. Rarely, if ever, did I have to stop and wait at this light. Until a few months ago, when it seemed as though it had been changed. Suddenly, I often found myself stuck at this red light. Not only would it rarely be green anymore, it would stay red for what seemed like an eternity. I would always be stressed and rushed on my way to school and work (because I am ALWAYS running late), and this red light would stress me out even more. I always hated stopping at this signal.
“Hi!” he brightly said.
“Nice to meet you friend, my name is Jerry! And no worries. The best thing you could give me is conversation. I would love for someone to talk to every once in awhile”.
“Well, I take this route almost daily.. so I’m sure I’ll be conversing with you a lot then!” I said. Just then, the light turned green. Suddenly, the time that the light was red seemed so short. We said our goodbye’s and I was on my way to work.
The next day, on my way to school, I actually was looking forward to hitting a red light and seeing Jerry. Unfortunately, and ironically, the light was green today. Something I used to love but now made me somewhat sad. Each day was different, if it was a green light, I would make sure to wave to Jerry as I drove by. If it was red, I got the wonderful and all too short of an opportunity to talk with this guy. Quickly, through our short, thirty-second interactions, I got to know a little bit more about Jerry. I learned that Jerry is currently sleeping in a friend’s garage floor with some cats. Jerry tells me there is no door to the garage so he is always very cold at night, but he is thankful for a roof over his head. To use the bathroom, Jerry has to find a restaurant near by that will let him use their facilities. But, he is, as he told me, ” lucky and thankful to live close to a McDonalds”! Lol. Lastly, I learned Jerry is a faithful believer in Jesus Christ. Since we made the connection that we share this walk with Jesus, our conversations often consist of him encouraging me spiritually. I have been so humbled by my interactions with Jerry. Without knowing it, in our short conversations, he reminds me of the blessings I so often take for granted. Today was no different.
I pulled up to a red light today and Jerry came over to my car,
“How’s life treating you today?” Jerry asked as he usually does.
“Its good,” I said. “I just went to school this morning, then I went home for a little bit, and now I’m on my way back for another three classes.” What he said next simply struck me like a ton of bricks.
“How nice that you can say that, huh?” I looked at him, slightly confused. He continued, “That you can say, ‘I went home’. What a blessing that is that you get to go home.”
“I’ve never thought about it like that Jerry. That’s a great perspective.”
“That’s what happens when you’re homeless like me!” Jerry said somewhat cheerfully, “you realize how blessed you are. Let me tell you something though, you are homeless, just like me. We all are. We all will be until we die, and THEN we will be truly at home, with Christ.”
The light turned green, he smiled and wished me a good rest of my day. I cannot explain the sheer joy that absolutely flooded into my heart. Such a simple, yet wise perspective from such a humble man. I truly believe Jerry is my own personal gift from God himself, to remind me just how wonderfully blessed I am, at the exact place and time I need to hear it. From such short interactions, I have a greater appreciation for my family, my home (especially on rainy, cold nights), and for my life. I am humbled that Jesus has given me this life, and somehow, makes an almost daily appointment between me and one of his angels everyday.
I write this to encourage you, next time you see a homeless person on a street corner, outside of the grocery store, wherever you may be, remember that they are a person. A person like you, created with a purpose, created in the image of God himself. Ask him or her their name. You might just be the next person hoping for a red light.