Monday, April 16, 2007

Unexpected Grace

Peter is a drunk.
He guards cars in the street outside my office during the day. And then at night he drinks. He has a bedroll, which he unrolls in a dark corner of the church garden. And alcohol gets him through the night. Increasingly he is using alcohol to get him through the day too.

Peter is a qualified boilermaker, who used to work on oil rigs making good money. He has a 12 year old daughter who lives with foster parents, and does not know about him. Last year he hitch-hiked to her home so that he could see her. She was at school when he visited her foster parents. Peter told me about the prizes she had won at school, and how proud he was of her. He stood across the road from her home and watched her return from school – but did not speak to her.

Peter often tells me that he is going to reform his life: “After Christmas”, and then “In the New year”. And more recently “I will be at church on Good Friday, and then I will stop drinking”. Most of the time his only contact with the church is to use our garden as his toilet. Recently in a drunken rage he threw his bedroll into the church garden and damaged a flower bed that a church couple had nurtured to life in memory of their son. And I had to explain to them that this damage was not vindictive, and that street people are loved by God too. But I am finding this hard to believe. And I am exasperated by him.

And yet….
Today I met a young unmarried mother who has been thrown out of her home and who now lives with her grandmother. They survive on a welfare grant, in a tiny city council apartment. She desperately hangs on to life, and admits to crying herself to sleep at night. “So how do you get through the month?” I ask. She replied:
“Well, I met Peter in the road. And he said I should come to you for counselling. He also gives me money from what he makes as a car guard”.
And I learned a lesson about the grace of God that is to be found in every person.


Becky said...

I like your story


Anonymous said...

God can use a crooked stick to draw a straight line! God does this everyday. Thank You God. Pieter G