As I ride up and down Route 1 every week going to our church’s nursing home ministry in Ashland, I pass by the building pictured above. Although it’s set back off the road, it’s pretty hard to ignore. I don’t know exactly what kind of business used to occupy that structure, but there’s still a “Fifty years in business” sign in the window along with “We build, we insure, we finance.”
I’m also not sure how long it takes pine trees to reach the height of those growing immediately in front of the building, but in my approximately seven years of participation in the nursing home ministry, I don’t recall ever seeing any signs of life there. Not inside, that is. But I’ve been watching those trees grow taller and taller.
The building may not be the greatest, but I would consider the location itself to be ideal. Busy roadway. Lots of passing traffic. Plenty of parking space out front.
But it remains unsold. I suppose no one sees the potential there.
On another part of my weekly journey, however, I used to pass by an abandoned service station. The kind with old fashioned pumps. Very picturesque. How often I wished I had the wherewithal to buy it and spruce it up. It wouldn’t be big enough to live in, though. Not very practical.
But one day I saw signs that it was being fixed up. Little by little it was properly landscaped and turned into a nifty looking little barbecue place. Someone else saw the potential and did something about it.
The Bellamy Brothers have an album of spiritual songs called Pray for Me. I’ll be honest. I was amazed at the nature of some of the songs, based on what some of their more secular songs are like, but I love the album. One of my favorite songs is “New Man in the Suit.” It says that God doesn’t put a new suit on the man. Instead, he puts a new man in the suit.
What a wonderful description of the transformation God can bring about in a person who may appear to be tattered and worthless. He can take someone who’s at rock bottom–like that abandoned service station–and give him new life. In God’s eyes, even someone comparable to the pine-fronted building still has potential. God may not change those people’s circumstances–He may not put a new suit on the man–but what a difference the inside changes make.
A number of congregations in the Richmond area participate in something called “CARITAS” (it means “love for all”) It’s an outreach to the homeless. Participating churches allow a group of homeless people to sleep in the their building for a week. They also provide dinner and breakfast, as well as pack a lunch for the homeless to take with them the next day as they go out. Some to jobs. Others to look for work.
Our church is hosting forty-some men from Caritas this week, and the Sunday school class my wife and I are in will be responsible for the evening meal tomorrow night and breakfast the next day. We’ll also bag their lunches.
Perhaps more important, we’ll sit with the men and talk with them. We’ll show them love and respect. They are people God loves and sees potential in. He may not “put a new suit on the man,” but His love can do a miraculous job of “putting a new man in the suit.”
What do you think of the “new suit” idea? How about leaving a comment?
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