He stands in the same place each day, saying the same things, acting the same way, and all seemingly unhurt by the multitudes that ignore him. With varying levels of gusto, probably connected to his quality of sleep, he perseveres against the chill from the wind just as much as, in a different season, he defies the burning gaze of the sun. His spot is worthy of defence, and the effectiveness of his message can mean the difference between life and death.
This unmistakeable message, heard time and time again, repeated almost lyrically, occasionally falls on an open ear, and results in an open heart, followed by a grateful smile. This cry, so well known and yet so oft ignored, contains just two words.
And it is just that. For the person standing in that spot, the response to that phrase can mean the difference between shelter and no-shelter, food or another skipped meal, or even the possibility of an extra layer to keep the nights chill at bay. Successfully selling their quota of copies can mean the beginning of working towards security once more. For that person, each sale can be a fulfilment of the promise of hope.
So our response is vital. If we walk past and choose to ignore, due to lack of cash or time, how have we made a positive difference to the world around us? Of course, your calling to make a difference does not have to be here, but what if we all listened a little better to the hope revealed by that persons consistent chant.
And so we not have a message to share for which we would be willing to do the same? I’m not calling for people to return to the ever unpopular street corner salvation, but our message can be so easily shared by random acts of kindness, or moments of pure compassion. Do we carry with us the tools to bless, or are we more concerned with our own burdens?
And a word of warning to those who would take my plea to an extreme level. We are not called to burn out, but God gives us strength to deal with the things He has set before us. If He uses us as hands and feet, His strength is with us. God has already identified the Big Issues He wants us to deal with. If we are tired, not through lack of trying or lack of perseverance, but through genuine exhaustion, then it is time to pause and reflect on how we can be most useful for God.
But in the meantime, why not stick £2.50 in your pocket, and be willing to respond to that cry…