Spirit Whispers – Part 2

Spirit Whispers – Part 2

A formerly homeless man was interviewed on TV. He explained how many different places in New York City he could get a hot meal, a shower with fresh clothes, and a bed for the night. All that, and more, was readily available. But he didn’t know how to escape homelessness and dependency—because his real poverty was within.

Homeless Series - No TrespassingMother Teresa said, “People are hungry for love, they are naked of human dignity and respect. They are homeless because of rejection.”

Yet, we live in a time where skeptics say, “Watch out—everybody’s working an angle.” Good people become cynical in a culture where they feel played. “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.” (Jesus foretold in Matthew 24:12).

Talmadge Wright, a sociology professor at Loyola University Chicago said, “When you are desperate and poor, you will do anything to survive and prosper. Somehow we seem to hold a moral standard that says as long as you don’t scam and oppress others you are okay, but if you con others you are not okay. The point is…any poor population will have both tendencies happening at the same time. If you don’t like it, make it so they are not poor.”

So how do we respond to people on our streets or in the world at large for that matter?

spiritualThe apostle John said, “Whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (1John 3:17) Notice he did not say “give him stuff,” which includes money. That requires wisdom in each situation. The main point is to not close our hearts. At the very least, we can pause and pray.

Secondly, relationship may be the key—even if it’s relationship for a moment. Let me explain…

Picture 2009 169I remember strolling arm-in-arm with my two teenage daughters. While scoping out colleges in the northwest, we stopped in Seattle to shop for prom dresses. Talk about feeling privileged.

We came upon a man in a heavy brown overcoat, sitting on the curb. I’ll be honest—for a second, I considered crossing the street. Yet a still, small voice in my head urged me to go on.  He is also my son, the Holy Spirit whispered. A burning heat filled my chest.

As we approached, I saw a frayed coat collar, an unshaven face, and greasy hair. My daughters continued to window shop. I paused, extending my hand to greet him and look into his eyes. His face held an expression of surprise. His jaw dropped slightly. I wondered if he felt invisible on the city’s busy streets. It was awkward. I fumbled around to make conversation.

Had he eaten lately?


Would he like the food I carried?


I handed him a crumpled bag of apples, cheese, crackers, and candy bars.

I don’t remember the rest of what was said, but in those moments of connection, something shifted in me. I understood what author Mike Mason meant when he said love requires getting mixed up with people. Even God did not want to be alone in heaven. He became a man and entered the human fray. He wanted to get mixed up with us.

My husband listens to the Holy Spirit. Sometimes he gives money. Sometimes he doesn’t. I watched him buy a bunch of shoddily made baskets from a decrepit man in a wheelchair on the streets of Jinja, Uganda. In fact, he bought the entire inventory. The man returned the biggest smile, as they spoke for a few minutes. Duncan didn’t need the baskets.

MummyAnother time in a Kampala hotel, Duncan stood at the reception desk. Suddenly he felt a stirring of the Spirit, and turned to look around. He saw a man with a bandaged head. The man had been in a bad car wreck and had constant pain in his chest, back, and head. My husband offered to pray for him, and he nodded. Amazingly, the pain left immediately! The guy was stunned. With wide eyes and a joyful voice, he said, “I must know your God!” And Duncan introduced him to Jesus, the Healer.

My friend Erli responds to the Spirit’s whispers in countless ways. She describes it as an impression that grows stronger inside her chest. But it doesn’t happen with every homeless person she sees. She offers simple acts of kindness, playing cards with one man in a wheelchair or buying gas for a guy who lived in his truck during the winter months. She takes some to a nearby church where they can shower and advises many about local services.

iStock_000016610688SmallOnce, she invited a young couple holding cardboard signs to have lunch with her. She learned that together they received $1,400 monthly for disability, but their funds frequently ran out. The girl showed Erli her new tattoo. Erli spent the afternoon counseling them about money, but did not give them any cash. The Lord brings different discernment for each situation. Still, with every encounter she offers the lovingkindness of Jesus and the respect and dignity that follows.

“Human beings,” said Mason, “are the fireworks in a darkened universe. To be in the presence of even the meanest, lowest, most repulsive specimen of humanity is still to be closer to God than when looking up into a starry sky or a beautiful sunset.”

We must listen for God and see what He sees. And while some people don’t want any help or continue to scam, we must not let our hearts grow cold.


  1. wow, a new perspective or maybe a new emphasis for me on 1 John 3:17 and it entered my spirit like POW! those words about not closing your heart…all these years and i’d never seen them. i kid you not. well, i SAW them but they never sunk in. i’ve always focused on every other word in that scripture. this is kinda blowing my mind and i LI-I-I-I-I-I-KE it because it’s freeing and easy and graceful and shook my spirit up. that is what the God i know wants for his silly little needy funny sheep, all things good and nobel and lovely and true and just . . . from that other scripture in phillipians. (right?). i love the way abba uses people in our lives and i love you for letting him use you the fine way you do.
    suzee b

  2. Lovely and thoughtful, Susan! xoxRobin O

  3. With tears in my eyes, I prayed, “Lord, please don’t let my heart grow cold.” Thank you, Susan.