Thursday, December 25, 2014

Billy Riggins On The Side Of The Road In Edmond, Oklahoma

You might wonder why there is a picture of actor Derek Phillips at the top of this devotional. Phillips is in character in the picture in the role of Billy Riggins from the television series, Friday Night Lights. He was a semi major character, mainly important as the brother of Tim Riggins, star football player of the Dillon Panthers. His was a complicated existence, full of big dreams and unrealistic expectations. But he had a good heart deep down and it was hard not to like him on some sympathetic level. But the show got cancelled and the fictional life of Billy Riggins was snuffed out like a Christmas candle. At least he lives on in youtube clips and DVD collections of FNL. We knew ye well, Billy. RIP.

If you read my entry from yesterday, you know our family went to see Santa Claus. Afterwards, we decided to go to a Luby's Cafeteria several miles away where we were served by the most delightful wait staff I've ever seen. We drove back to Ben and Courtney's in two cars. In ours, Ben drove with Dave in the passenger seat and Sally and me in the back. We got caught at a red light, a long one. We found ourselves adjacent to a man on the grass shoulder who looked eerily, to me at last, like Billy Riggins, chronicled above. The man, who looked as if he had not shaved in several days, held a small sign on which the following words were penned:
My name is Jim This is the most embarrassing day of my life. I lost my small business and I'm homeless. I need a job.
I was intrigued by several things. First, he was five or six car lengths back from the light and squatted instead of walking back and forth with the traffic. He also would not lift his eyes off the ground and he had no container for donations. My impression was that I was looking at the most defeated human being in the world. Dave rolled down the window, called out to the man, and tried to give Jim six dollars. He refused, saying plaintively, "I want to work for it." Dave insisted and as the light changed and we had to move, he reluctantly took the cash. For the rest of the day as my family celebrated happily and comfortably, I could not push the image of Jim out of my mind.

I've been fooled before, and sometimes spectacularly so, by hard luck stories. And maybe Jim fooled me on Christmas Eve as well. If he did, he has bigger problems than being homeless and unemployed. But I don't think I was hoodwinked. I thought we witnessed a man whose dignity had left him and who felt shame in his condition, a man who felt he was without hope. There's no shortage of Jims in the world this Christmas. Let's say a prayer for the multitudes of Jims as we rejoice in the birth of the Savior this December 25th. Let's also remember as the Canadian supergroup sang, Tears Are Not Enough; use what the Lord has given us to lift the loads of the downtrodden. And remember what was foretold by the prophet Isaiah and quoted by Matthew in chapter 12:
“Here is my servant whom I have chosen,
    the one I love, in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
    and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
 He will not quarrel or cry out;
    no one will hear his voice in the streets.
 A bruised reed he will not break,
    and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out,
till he has brought justice through to victory.     

In his name the nations will put their hope.”
In Him we all put our hope. I pray Jim will, too.

Applicable quote of the day:
The secret is not to give up hope. It's very hard not to because if you're really doing something worthwhile I think you will be pushed to the brink of hopelessness before you come through the other side.

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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