I lifted my gaze from my shopping cart. My eyes locked with his from across the fresh produce section.
I wasn’t sure he’d recognize me. After all, my hair was about six inches shorter–and a shade lighter–than the last time we had seen each other. But, he did. With a big smile on his face, he was heading straight for me.
His big-brother-kind-of-hug was one I didn’t realize I missed until that moment. Even if it was accompanied by the lingering smell of stale cigarette smoke.
I love it when God intersects my day with one of these precious people from my past.
His eyes looked just as tired as they used to and his slouched shoulders were an indication of his weariness. The weight of the world appeared to be upon them.
Our conversation next to the avocados was short and sweet, and it didn’t take me long to understand life was still a struggle for him. But, he was making the best of it, and from what I could tell, was making positive choices despite of the struggle.
We hugged again before parting ways, and I wondered when and if I would see him again.
I had first met this friend while serving at a local mission years ago. He struggled with alcohol abuse, and if my mind serves me correctly, he experienced a long time of homelessness. He was a kind and generous man, and would help out in any way he physically could. One thing he wasn’t was lazy.
He would disappear for days and weeks. And, when he would return, we’d catch back up again. No questions would be asked. No judgment was passed. Our respect for each other was mutual.
I often think about the hurting and homeless God allowed me to sojourn with for those short years while serving at that mission. Every once in awhile I run into one or two, and it’s usually a similar exchange. They are happy to see me and I’m thrilled to see them. I think God continues to intersect my life with them for a number of reasons. One is, to remind me He loves us all the same.
Yes, God loves us all the same. He doesn’t play favorites.
God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die. John 3:16 CEV
The above scripture is probably one of the most quoted and well-known verses of the Bible, but don’t let its familiarity dull its truth. God loves the people of this world so much. All people. The rich man and the poor man. The wise and the not-so-wise. He loves the provider and the beggar. The elderly and the young. The Christian and non-Christian. You and me.
His love is unconditional.
And, just in case you could use a reminder, God loves you. More than you’ll ever know. Even if it doesn’t appear so. Even if there’s trouble or hardship or calamity in your life. He loves us all… even though death, disease, discouragement, and despair might linger long in our days. His love isn’t based on what this life holds, but what’s waiting for us in the next. His love isn’t determined by what we do or don’t do. Or what you’ve done or haven’t done. He loves us all. Period.
I’m praying God reminds you in some specific way of just how great His love is for you. It might even happen in the fresh produce section of the grocery store! Wherever it happens, soak it up and cling to it. Then turn around and share that reminder with another. I’m joining you in this today.