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Portrait of a Stranger
by Earl Griffin
09/07/06
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He sat quietly on the steps of a sidestreet near Chicago's Milwaukee Avenue. A tattered, two piece gray suit hang loosely on his body. A dusty, green, hooded, coat lay freely between his legs folded across his lap. His empty blue eyes, white beard and unwashed hair made him appear void of all hope and purpose. He was a vagabond. Tired and from his frail-looking frame, hungry - but not a beggar.

Watching him sit silently, staring into space, caused a strange feeling within me. Tears welled up inside me. I forced them back and pondered what I could do to help this man. Regretfully, I knew there was nothing I could do but show compassion by offering a simple prayer to the heavens on his behalf. Why? He had given up on life.

What had his life been like? Had he been a businessman whose business suddenly turned sour? Did he succumb to the obstacles set before him? Or had he been a father whose family had turned against him? Just what in life could so devastate a man and force him to give up and stop believing in God and in himself?

And what of my life? Where will it end? What misfortune lies waiting to destroy my hope? The flame of life burns so brightly within me now as I am sure it did within him. Goals, dreams, and hope overflow within my bosom. Many obstacles have already been faced and many more await. I resolve to be strong and trust in God, not in myself.

With that, I hurriedly walked past this stranger sitting quietly on the steps of life unwilling to move any further.

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...in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them... 2 Cor 5:19

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