The following is a weekly devotional from my brother, Pastor Dave McDowell, Music Minister, Stewartstown UMC, Stewartstown, PA:
I met both Dans while on a recent trip.
I had never been to this city before
but I was enjoying the feel of
this growing city.
Restaurants of many cuisines,
the performing arts abound,
sporting events dot the calendar.
The first Dan that I met is in the banking industry.
Like many young people
who populate this city.
he is single, well educated,
Over the last several years,
this metropolis has become a hub of the banking industry.
It is what drew Dan to the area.
Things were good when Dan moved here.
He was in his late 20's when the economy was booming,
His future looked bright and promising.
And then things changed,
The economy stepped into one of the biggest recessions in years.
Now in his early 40's,
Dan's sense of hope has been replaced with fear and apprehension.
He awakes each morning wondering if he will have a job at the end of the day,
He hears the rumors,
the quiet talk in office cubicles....
words like downsizing and layoffs dot the conversations.
10 years ago,
his biggest concern was
how to invest his money,
and which restaurant to choose for a Friday night date.
Now his thoughts have migrated,.....
how will he make it if his job is eliminated.
What about his mortgage?
Car payments, utilities,
Each restless night seems to evoke another financial concern
Life has far more questions than answers these days.
Dan came here expecting an adventure.
He just didn't expect the adventure to be this scary.
I met the other Dan in the same city.
He is slightly older than the first Dan.
At least it appears that way.
Homelessness has a way of aging a person.
He came to this city because it was in a warmer climate.
It makes sleeping outside at night a bit easier.
He has concerns as well.
He wonders if his home will be taken by others,
It's a small space that he claimed several months ago,
under the overpass of the highway.
Squatter rights only go so far when you don't have a mailing address.
Dan has more than one home.
On nights when the wind blows the rain eastward,
he moves to his other home
so that he can better attempt to remain dry.
This Dan is single as well,
and well educated
with a degree in language skills
He speaks three languages
He too, expected that life would be a challenge and adventure.
He just didn't anticipate this type of adventure.
That's what happens when you lose a job,
and you have no family that can help you make it through the hard times.
Like the other Dan, Dan thinks about his health care and the other essentials of life.
Will he get in line early enough to be seen by the volunteer medical staff at the mission?
Will he receive a bus token that will allow him to get across town to a job interview?
Will he be lucky enough to be among those who can take a shower that day?
Will the meal that he is given be something that he actually likes?
If you would place the two Dans side by side,
chances are you would see two very different people.
And if you were so inclined, you would likely treat them very differently
But if you had the time to listen to them,
to hear their stories,
you would know that they are practically the same person.
My dear friends, don't let public opinion
influence how you live out our glorious, Christ-originated faith.
If a man enters your church wearing an expensive suit,
and a street person wearing rags comes in right after him,
and you say to the man in the suit,
"Sit here Sir, this is the best seat in the house!'
and either ignore the street person say,
"Better sit here in the back row,"
haven't you segregated God's children
and proved that you are judges who can't be trusted?
Listen dear friends. Isn't it clear by now that God operates quite differently?
You do well when you complete the royal rule of the Scriptures:
"Love others as you love yourself."
James 2: 1-4, 8