The season for Coldest Nights has begun. For those that don’t know, Coldest Nights is a program in which The Journey Home, Murfreesboro Cold Patrol, Murfreesboro Rescue Mission, First Baptist Church, St Paul's Episcopal, and a few other churches pool their resources together to provide an emergency shelter to house men and women who are experiencing homelessness for when the temperatures are freezing or below.
I was hanging out at FBC where the men are housed and was talking with some volunteers that help with Murfreesboro Cold patrol. They were telling me stories of the previous year of when they were taking care of one of the homeless persons. They told me stories of it being freezing cold outside and they would find this person drunk while half passed out in a bundle of urine stained blankets. The volunteers told me about slipping on this person’s frozen pee one time at this person's camp. One time a volunteer was carrying this person back to their camp and the person peed on the volunteer (not accidently), and at a different time this person threatened to pee on the volunteer if they didn't leave. I was shocked and disgusted when hearing about this, but listening to these stories opened my eyes to how these volunteers are serious about loving their neighbors. After many of these unfortunate encounters with this person, the volunteers continued to care for this person and at times most likely saved this person’s life from freezing in the cold.
These stories amazed me because of the things these volunteers would go through to take care of a stranger. They weren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. It reminds me of when Jesus healed the lepers, freed the demon possessed, and washed His disciples’ feet. Jesus wasn’t afraid to get His hands dirty. It struck me hard with my own convictions on how I want to help, but how I’m not willing to get my hands dirty.
I began to think in a new way of when Jesus washed His disciples’ feet. Jesus wasn’t afraid to get dirty in order to make the disciples clean. He worked to scrub off the layers of sand, clay, mud, possibly dirt from animal droppings, possibly even dried blood from various cuts, scrapes, or blisters. Jesus washed them. As He scrubbed He took away the evidence of the places they had been in the past. He prepared their feet for a new day, a new beginning. The disciples didn’t ask for it. Peter even said he wasn’t worthy of it at first. Even though, knowing their feet would get dirty again, Jesus still cleansed them from what they had been walking through.
How willing are we to get our hands dirty to help someone else have a fresh start, even if the person didn’t ask for it? We may have strong evidence that they are going to mess up again, but can we continue to forgive them of their past like Jesus did? My respect goes to those volunteers who are crazy enough to keep loving.
I pray that we, me included, will be willing to get our hands dirty the next time the opportunity comes our way.