Pastor Joshua West
Worship Pastor, Shiloh Community Church
Everyone has had or will have a low point in their lives. This is part of living in a fallen world. Lately, my heart has specifically broken over the number of people I see on a daily basis without a home, hurting, hungry, lonely, and probably living in their darkest, lowest days. I usually notice these people in passing, standing alone on a street corner with some torn, cardboard sign that is begging for someone to help them purchase their next meal. Sadly, people in these situations are far too abundant in our society and I truly wish I could reach out to help them all.
I read the shaky handwriting on their cardboard signs, which usually reads something like: Hungry, please help. I’ve seen many of these people briefly share their stories on these cardboard signs in a few simple words, giving the world a quick snapshot of who they are, such as: Single Mom, Retired Veteran, Unemployed, etc. I’ve read witty signs and sad signs and signs that make you want to know more about their story. But I once saw a homeless man, holding a sign that I cannot forget…
I was on my way home from work, rushing to pick up my wife and arrive to a dinner party that evening on time. I was in my own, little world. Driving and processing my day, my mind was focused on the rush-hour traffic, which always seems to bring me to a complete stop at the round-a-bout near my house. As I was at a standstill, waiting for the traffic to clear, I looked out my window and noticed a man dressed in dirty, tattered clothing, with shaggy hair and a weary face. With shoulders slumped and face towards the ground, he held a sign that read:
“Just a loser.”
My car moved forward with the flow of traffic but my mind couldn’t move on. Even long into the night, I kept thinking of this man and what he wrote about himself. I imagined this man looking into the mirror at the end of his day, truly believing in his heart the words he wrote. What other words would he choose to describe himself? From his simple statement, I could also assume he may have felt like a failure. Useless. Worthless. Unimportant. I’m sure as a little boy, when he imagined his future, he never planned to be that man on the corner. Yet, there he was in that moment, feeling like a total loser.
Suddenly, in the midst of my pondering, I wondered: If God had written a cardboard sign for that man, what would that sign have said? That homeless man could only look at his reflection and see a loser. Little did he know, his Maker looks at Him every day and sees a masterpiece. When that man wrote those words about himself, I bet he didn’t believe he had a Creator who intricately wove him together in his mother’s womb (Psalm 139), creating Him with a future full of hope and purpose (Jeremiah 29:11). I bet he didn’t know that his life was worth so much, someone [Jesus] purchased-paid for- his life with their own blood (Galatians 3:13.) I bet that man didn’t know that someone cared enough about him to count the hairs on his head (Luke 12:7) and in fact, continuously thinks about him more than the grains of sand on the seashore (Psalm 139:18.) I imagine Jesus, taking this man’s sign, completely erasing his words, and re-writing an accurate sign of who that man really is in His eyes. I believe the sign would read something like:
“Precious, Honored, and Loved” (Isaiah 43:4)
“Child of a King” (Galatians 4:7, John 1:12)
“Wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14), or perhaps,
“Citizen of Heaven” (Philippians 3:20)
I began to think how often we write our own “cardboard signs” covered in identities that we hold in our hearts and thoughts. If no one were to see your sign, what would you write about yourself? Who do you believe you are? Do you see yourself as nothing more than a failure or a loser? Maybe you hold onto beliefs that you are not “enough”- good enough, successful enough, rich enough, smart enough, funny enough, attractive enough. Do you wish for what you could be or believe you should be. Maybe you feel dirty or stained or broken. Today, I encourage you to find a quiet place and ask the Lord, “God, what do I have written on my ‘sign’?”
Then, allow the Lord to wash you with HIS sign, His words, that he has already written about you. Because regardless of how we feel or what we think, our opinions and views of ourselves do not change the solid truth of who we are to God-our Creator. Right at this moment, whether that homeless man believes or not, he is already everything that God has said about him. So are you! Today, wherever you are, no matter what you’ve done or where you’ve been, God is holding a giant sign above your head that says you are loved! You are accepted! You are free! You are chosen! You are holy and blameless! You are adopted! You are precious and honored by God! You have a purpose! (John 3:16, Galatians 5:1, Ephesians 1:4, Isaiah 43:4, Jeremiah 29:11).
I love what Charles Spurgeon once said: “My faith rests not in what I am, or shall be, or feel, or know, but in what Christ is, in what He has done, and in what He is now doing for me.” I encourage you to allow your faith to rest in this as well. Take hold of the “sign” God has written about you and hold it proudly! YOU are loved.