“Hey.” The man’s voice was slow, slurred. “Hey. Can you help me? I’m between a rock and a hard place.” He was an older gentleman, heavy-set, with rough face and hands that betrayed a life in conditions other than kind. A few minutes earlier, it had taken two people to raise him off the sidewalk and into a park bench. Now, after having caught his breath, he was trying to talk.
“Where are you going to stay tonight?” one of the men asked.
“Well, uh, I imagine, between a rock, and, and…” his voice trailed off. He was homeless, suffering from a mental condition and the addiction to alcohol that had landed him so helpless on the ground.
The second bystander was also homeless, and knew the older man better. His explanation of the situation was enlightening.
“Don’t judge him for the alcohol. When you don’t have friends, you get lonely. When you can’t buy anything to eat, you get hungry. When winter comes, you get cold. Now, when he drinks, he isn’t lonely. He isn’t hungry. He isn’t cold.
This made sense, at least at first. Alcohol was a solution to the man, a solution that numbed the pain. But the emptiness of its claim was soon made apparent. A full tray of warm baked chicken and a box of fresh strawberries was made available, and portions offered to the homeless men. Would it be enough? It was cold, the men were homeless and lonely.
“No, thank you. I don’t need any.” That was the older man. The other ate a strawberry and a small chicken leg, but slowly, and apparently out of politeness.
They were not ungrateful. They just weren’t hungry. They weren’t lonely. They weren’t cold. They had their drink, and they could keep themselves alive day by day.
The point here is not to make homeless people look bad or ungrateful, for both those men were kind, friendly, and thankful. Rather, it is to compare ourselves to that situation. The world we live in is spiritually like the world they lived in. It is lonely – a “waste howling wilderness.” The inhabitants are cold – “the love of many shall wax cold.” It is also a place of famine – “not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.”
Do we feel this loneliness? What about the cold? Do we hunger? If not, the same can be said about us as about those two men – we “follow strong drink.” And although they could certainly lay some small claim to being “ready to perish” and therefore justified in their action, God’s Word clearly says about us “Woe unto you that are full! For ye shall hunger.”
What is the “strong drink” that we follow? What is it that numbs us to the very real and pressing need for our souls? What robs us of the instinct to ask for “food convenient for me?”
This addicting and numbing influence varies from person to person, but for very many it can be said that the temptations of technology and misuse of modern media contribute strongly to our willful and addicting blindness. The many and varied attractive aspects of these “conveniences” have fooled us into accepting them wholeheartedly into our homes with no limit or restriction.
The problem has two aspects: the introduction of evil, and the removal of good. When these temptations are accepted into our homes, we think they are to our advantage. And, in many ways, technology has proven to be very beneficial. But we jump over the potential risks, because they are not so readily seen. We may consider that they have negatives, due to the many faithful warnings, but it is less often that we understand how quickly they replace the good. Just like alcohol numbed the homeless men, so we are caught up in something we consider “partially justifiable” and the true good is quietly displaced.
Do you seek the true good? Or, do you find yourself never having enough time? For many today, technology is silently filling the place that could have been used for the things that have eternal value. Try to set aside your phone for an evening this week, and open the Bible. “For whoso findeth Me findeth life, and shall obtain favor of the Lord.”