I saw a guy holding a sign the other day as he stood beside the road. You know the sign, the cardboard sign that announces someone is homeless and needs help. This man’s sign caught my attention. “Homeless: need help; too ugly to be a prostitute but I need work. Anything.”
It was interesting that this man had not written “Homeless:need money, anything will help.” His phrasing, if not a bit crass, was telling of where he was at this point in his life (homeless), what he needed (work) and possibly where he had come from (potentially a hard worker in the past). I often look at anyone holding a sign and think about what led them to this point. I think about the man who lost everything due to addiction and now can’t even feed himself or the woman who left her abusive husband, hitting rock bottom with nowhere to turn. Often I judge these people, wandering if they truly need help or is it all a scam?
These signs also make me think about what my sign would say. If I had to write a cardboard sign right now, what would it reveal about my current state and what I need right at this very moment? It humbles my heart to think of putting one statement on a sign for everyone to see, criticize and judge.
So here’s the exercise for today. Make your sign. Where are you now and what do you need? Here’s mine: “Weary traveler, almost home. Need a place to rest.” Since I’m physically traveling, this is literal. However, there is a lot of spiritual implication there as well. I’ve always had a struggle with rest and as I’ve gotten older, I realize the necessity of it, yet it’s hard for me to rest and just be, knowing that God is in control.
So, what would your sign be? It will probably change through seasons of life, or maybe even daily. Next time you see someone with a sign, remember they are a person, with a story, and extend some grace.