If the devil ain't messin with you, he's already got you. If you is waitin to clean up your own life before you get out and help somebody else, you may as well take off your shoes and crawl back in the bed 'cause it ain't never gon' happen. Jesus don't need no help from no perfect saints. If He did, He wouldn't a' gone up yonder and left us down here in charge.
There's somethin I learned when I was homeless: Our limitation is God's opportunity. When you get all the way to the end of your rope and there ain't nothin you can do, that's when God takes over. I remember one time I was hunkered down in the hobo jungle with some folks. We was talkin 'bout life, and this fella was talkin, said, 'People think they're in control, but they ain't. The truth is, that which must befall thee must befall thee. And that which must pass the by must pass thee by.
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Everybody's lookin for God everywhere on the outside. He ain't in no book, and He ain't in no preacher, and He ain't in nothin or no one on the outside. You got to go inside 'cause that's where God is- in the deepest place inside you. And ain't nobody gon' make God tell you nothin. Ain't nobody gon' have no wisdome 'bout nothin if they thinks they can read 'bout it or hear about it from some man or woman. That got to come from revelation. That got to come from the Holy Spirit inside us, and that ain't somethin that can be bargained for. You can't achieve revelation. You can't work for what's free.
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You know, if you ain't poor, you might think it's the folks in them big ole fine brick churches that's doin all the carin and the prayin. I wish you coulda seen all them little circles a'homeless folks with their heads bowed and their eyes closed, whisperin what was on their hearts. Seemed like they didn't have nothin to give, but they was givin what they had, taken the time to knock on God's front door and ask Him to heal this woman that loved them.
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I heard that when white folks go fishin they do somethin called 'catch and release.' Catch and release? I nodded solemnly, suddenly nervous and curious at the same time. 'That really bothers me', Denver went on. 'I just can't figure it out. 'Cause when colored folks go fishin, we really proud of what we catch, and we take it and show it off to everybody that'll look. Then we eat what we catch... in other words, we use it to SUSTAIN us. So it really bothers me that white folks would go to all the trouble to catch a fish, when when they done caught it, just throw it back in the water.' He paused again, and the silence between us stretched a full minute. Then: 'Did you hear what I said?' I nodded, afraid to speak, afraid to offend. Denver looked away, searching the blue autumn sky, then locked onto me again with that drill-bit start. 'So, Mr. Ron, it occurred to me: If you is fishin for a friend you just gon' catch and release, then I ain't got no desire to be your friend.' I returned Denver's gaze with what I hoped was a receptive expression and hung on. Suddenly his eyes gentled and he spoke more softly than before: 'But if you is lookin for a REAL friend, then I'll be one. Forever.
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For the first time, it struck me that when Denver said he'd be my friend for life, he meant it-for better or for worse. The hell of it was, Mr. Ballantine never wanted a friend, especially a black one. But once Denver committed, he stuck. It reminded me of what Jesus told His disciples 'Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
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If all the Christians- I mean all of 'em- got outta the pews on Sundays and into the streets, we'd shut the city down. We'd shut down hunger. We'd shut down loneliness. We'd shut down the notion that there is any such of a thing as a person that don't deserve a kind word and a second chance.
Any time you approach anything in fear and aggression or in self-preservation mode, you are going to scare people off. But if you go in love, with the idea of being the feet and hands of Christ, if you go with the idea of showing the love of Christ, then they become softened because love changes all.