Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16 (NIV)
By Bro. John L. Cash
While attending a religious retreat, I made a number of new friends. One of my favorites was Martin, who was my roommate. On the second day of our retreat, he said, “John, I have something to tell you that you probably don’t know. I’m a homeless man.”
He told me later, “Whenever I tell people that, I always watch to see if they flinch. And you didn’t flinch. A lot of people think ‘homeless’ means the same thing as ‘slip up behind you and kill you.’ But it doesn’t mean that at all. Being homeless just means you don’t have a permanent address right now.”
This may sound strange, but becoming friends with Martin has given me a new appreciation for what the homeless in America go through on a daily basis. I always thought that homeless people were lazy. But Martin has a program of work that keeps him busy from daylight to dark. Previously, he was living in a shelter and was required to be up and out by 5 a.m.
From there, he made his way to a church where he could get a cup of coffee. Later on, he went to another church where he could get a bite of breakfast. And then he went to a ministry set up for the homeless where he could wash a load of clothes, put in a job application, and check his email. From there, he often does day-labor, helping a landscaper. “On a good day, I can make 80 dollars,” he said.
(Martin’s story made me realize how difficult it can be to get “set up” when you’re starting out. All of us had someone to help us get on our feet when we began our adult lives. But without any support system, it’s difficult to get a job, an apartment, transportation, and the items of daily life all at once. Since we first met, he’s worked hard to improve his situation. He is now in an apartment at the Salvation Army, paying monthly rent.)
Martin told me his evenings were spent at the public library. From there he can make phone calls and send texts from his go-phone. (He uses an app that connects his cell phone to Wifi, because he has no minutes on his phone.) He also told me that at the library he’s able to watch “Petticoat Junction” and “The Rifleman with Chuck Connors.” “It’s a good day if I can do all these things,” he told me. “I have a good plan to keep myself out of trouble.”
Do you realize what a solid, Christian idea this is? Believe it or not, the Bible says we all need a plan to keep ourselves out of trouble. St. Paul says we are to “redeem the time, because the days are evil.”
If we don’t plan to do good things, we will end up sinning. So, have a plan each day — a schedule of good activities that promote the work of Christ in the world. After all, each one of us hopes to have an eternal home in Heaven.
Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 34 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. He’s a retired Mississippi public schoolteacher with grown sons, and is now a stay-at-home-grandpa. He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in a brick house in town (where the Preacher is writing this on a rainy, rainy Friday.) You can send him a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.