I was running. The sun had just risen, and light was coming through the palm trees like a bit of heaven on earth.
But as I turned that corner where the invisible boundary between Santa Monica and Venice Beach becomes oh so clear, a homeless woman stumbled in front of me on the path. Her face was beautiful and she was blonde, she was even dressed up but her feet were bare and she was talking to herself. The floodgates of healing opened wide as Plumb’s “Need You Now” played loudly on my iPod.
I had to stop, catch my breath, let the tears stream quietly. For nine years ago, dear sister was lost and in trouble on these streets of Venice Beach. We got on a plane and spent days here, hoping and praying, walking and running, following and chasing, desperately trying to entice sister back home and save her from destruction. But our efforts failed, and it was six years of trauma and drama before there were any signs of hope.
For me, the wounds from Venice Beach and the six years that followed had healed as best as they could this side of heaven. That’s what I thought.
But God alone provides the right time for real healing to begin.
Two hours ten minutes of running the first day, and one hour thirty minutes the next, that’s the time I spent on the path to, through, and out of Venice Beach over a week ago.
I could have stayed comfortable in the hotel workout room, but my soul needed healing. My soul needed to see, to experience the sights and sounds of Venice Beach again, this time in a new light.
So after crossing paths with that stumbling homeless lady, I decided I would face the pain straight on. Rather than run on the outskirts of Venice Beach on the winding path, I’d run straight through. I’d stare down the store fronts forever etched in my mind, I’d look right into the eyes of the homeless residents, I’d let every image seep in and every old memory leak out as it may.
The further I ran, the more I was healed, and by the time I got back to the room I was physically exhausted, but filled with peace I would have never known had I remained safe in the hotel.
And through the healing came another message quiet, but clear – we’re all homeless without a Savior.
As I ran, I saw glimpses of all humanity in the homeless.
Hollowed out, dried up.
Shuffling around, wandering aimlessly.
Playing it cool, putting on a happy face.
Wasted. Used up.
Sleeping the day away, riding the wave.
Bent over, worn out.
Whether we’re homeless on the streets, or homeless because we have no idea where we’re going, what we’re doing, or where our real home is, we’ve all faced emptiness, uncertainty and desperation in our lives to some degree.
Perhaps all of life makes more sense in light of Easter. A God bigger and more powerful than we can even begin to imagine sent his son, Jesus, to dwell on earth as man. Perfect in every way, He lived in a land that was not his home. He experienced and therefore understands all of human life, the good and the bad. And though it’s hard to believe or even fathom since we didn’t see it happen, He died and rose to offer us redemption and perfect life in eternity. And while we’re here on earth, He heals, He directs, He guides, He offers peace and clarity, and He creates something beautiful with our lives and days – if we’re willing to listen, if we’re willing to believe, if we’re willing to follow.
It’s a gift, and we have free will to accept that gift or not. For me personally? When I find myself in the midst of complete confusion, chaos, and dissatisfaction, I remember this reality, and it’s the only thing that makes sense.
“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” C.S. Lewis
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:4-5