He believes in God. He has read the Bible. He comes to our events from time to time, but he never stays. But one day he came to me in pain wanting help.
Tommy is a young man, and typical of many we work with. He’s been in foster care off and on from his early teens. He has family but they aren’t great for one another. He’s done just about everything: drugs, theft, sex, and more.
Tommy is addicted to drugs. He has a drug of choice, and he has managed to find enough strength to stay away from it. But he has substituted other drugs in it’s place. He goes for a while without drugs and he has other times when he uses a lot. On the day he came to me, he was ready to give up drugs. He was hurting a lot. And he was frightened. I took him in a back room to talk.
He told me he wanted God to heal him… to take away his addiction. I told him he needed to confess what he has done, so that Jesus can take it away. He began but stopped. “I can’t. I can’t talk to Jesus. I talk with God but I can’t talk with Jesus.” I asked him why. “I know God is real and understand what God wants. But I’ve tried to talk with Jesus and I just don’t feel him.”
Tommy listed all his sins to me. And he said, “God is mad at me. He’s done all these things to me. And I just want to know why. I just want to understand. Why does it all happen this way?”
I explained that God loves him. And that Jesus is the way to the Father. That he need only confess his sins to Jesus. Jesus has already done all the work on the cross to take away his sins and restore Tommy. God has always loved him and always will, but God does expect Tommy to have a relationship with Jesus to be restored.
Tommy couldn’t do it. I pressed him very hard to find out why. Tommy cried and finally said, “I’m afraid. I don’t want punishment. I know He’s going to break my legs like a lost sheep so I won’t wander off anymore. I don’t want him to hurt me.” I was shocked but I recognized the truth of the moment.
How misled Tommy is. God loves Tommy so much, but Tommy is unable to cry out to Jesus for his help. Tommy remains too prideful, too independent, and too hurt yet to hear the Gospel news. Jesus will not break his legs, but rather will hoist him on his shoulders and carry him back to the flocks. He will celebrate Tommy’s homecoming.
We will continue to shamelessly offer the Gospel to Tommy. And we will continue to relentlessly ask Jesus to be near Tommy. The father loves Tommy so much and will provides great and wonderful things for him when Tommy is ready. All the work is done already by Jesus on the cross. The banquet table–a table set in part by supporters of SYM who give, pray and love street-dependent young people… the table is ready. Many will be invited. And we will invite the poor, sick and lame. We will go out and find the outcast and invisible among us and continue to invite them in. There is room for all because of Jesus! Will Tommy come? Only time can tell.