Meeting With a Tramp
by Llewelyn Stevenson
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I was walking down the bitumen road with no particular destination, knowing that I would ultimately reach the end of my journey. The day was bright, the weather comfortably pleasant as I contentedly trudged my chosen path.
Today it reminded me so much of my meditations: dreamily wandering through the thoughts of the day; knowing full well that an adventure is to be had at some lonely corner as I steadily approach an undetermined destination.
I suppose not all meditation is that way. Sometimes the information sought is more determined and the thinking more direct and studious. But I think it a shame if one cannot relax in the bosom of God and have childlike dreams of hope and fantasy. There is so much that can be learned this way, as we simply trust our Heavenly Father to feed us. There is no artful preparation, just the turning up at the table for the feast he so liberally provides.
The scenery surrounding me as I walked was peacefully country and a contented loneliness accompanied me. We all need such times of solitude where we can cast aside the worries of the world and build an imaginary fortress against the hustle and bustle that is so often upsetting. I was totally unaware that he would soon approach me.
The bitumen street I trod took a bend to the right, but a dirt driveway continued straight ahead. I had no reason to follow the gravel road and had already determined to turn with the tar when I saw a disheveled tramp approaching down the dirt track. Lost in my own reverie I had little interest in him at first, till I became aware that he seemed determinedly purposed to approach me.
I looked again and noticed his injured and disfigured features and feelings of pitiful horror came over me. I cringed to think of the pain such suffering had caused.
Now I considered that, perhaps he came seeking some benefit from me and felt inwardly embarrassed that I had nothing on me to give, bearing only the clothes that I wore. I was so unprepared yet I felt compelled to await him. He came as we swapped greetings and he held out open and upturned hands.
“See my hands?” he asked. I looked, and they were gravely wounded. The gaping wounds passing clearly through the midst of them. I was horrified.
“Don’t be afraid,” he commanded. “Put your fingers in them, and feel.”
Inwardly I cringed, but something in his words: in his voice caused me to obey.
He lifted the garment he wore to reveal a ghastly wound in his side.
“Look,” he said, “Put your hand in there.”
Unable to resist my trembling hand made its way as I realized that this was Jesus.
But why? Why me? Why now? Why as suffering servant, and not as conquering king? The questions soon began to tumble from my lips. He explained that he wanted to assure me that it was truly he, and his motive was purely “because he loved me.”
Abandoning all I fell to my knees at his feet threw my arms around him and sobbed into his apron, “My Lord, and my God!”
What a sight it must have been to see a man sobbing before an unkempt tramp! Yet such is the devotion he draws from you. Words are unable to express the emotions that took a hold of me that moment. So deep was his affection that I became as a sheep: he called, and I followed. Followed blindly. Followed willingly.
I wish I could explain this more perfectly but words fail me. I wish I could draw you into the experience because I truly desire it were yours as well as mine. All I can say to you is that Jesus loves you with an incomparable love.
“Greater love has no man.” Trust me in this.
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