At first I didn't even notice what was happening as Lynna and I walked through Prague's Old Town on that bitter cold Saturday afternoon.
We had just finished a tour of Prague's historic sites and were freezing, so we decided to go-some place warm and get a cup of hot chocolate. As we walked through the square, headed for an inviting little coffee shop, I saw him through the passing crowds. He was seated on the ground with his back against a church wall when the policeman approached him and spoke sharply.
Instantly he was on his feet, and that was the moment I got a good look at him. He was scruffy, scraggly, unkempt, unshaven, wearing a worn winter jacket, but no hat. Yet he had a face that could have been handsome, framed by long curly brown hair.
The policeman was a big, burly guy (Czechs can be big, and it looks as if they had a national campaign to find the biggest of the big for the police force) made to look even bigger by his quilted winter jacket and a hat with a black-and-white checkered headband that didn't quite sit right on his head. His words first prodded, then propelled that bum out of the square in Old Town.
He was just a bum and he didn't belong among the tourists who thronged Prague's main square, even on that cold Saturday. He was just like thousands of others I have seen all over the world and barely noticed. But something happened in my heart when I caught that short glimpse of his face. I felt pain, hurt, I was wounded for that man. He wasn't really a bum; he was a man, a man formed by God for eternal purposes and eternal glory. What happened? Is there a broken hearted mother and father somewhere longing for their son, asking, "Where did my little boy go?" Or was it a mother or father who broke his heart and turned him into what he is today? Maybe it was drugs or mental illness that mutated that man into a bum.
I know what many say. He had his chances, he made his choices, and he still has his chances to make his choices. True. I know those answers. Yet it pained me to see a man made for God’s glory shamefully shuffling out of Prague’s Old Town, prodded by a policeman's words, looking like a third grader on his way to the " principle's office. That brought grief to my heart.
You know what caused this man to be a bum, don’t you? Sin--his sin and somebody else's sin. It's Adam being driven from the Garden all over again. Don't you hate sin and all the evil it brings? But we really don't hate sin or we wouldn't sin the way we do. We may not be bums, but we're not in the Garden anymore either.
But why aren't we bums? Why is it that the bum is driven further into the cold while Lynna and I go warm ourselves with a great cup of hot chocolate and then return to our comfortable hotel room? There's only one reason. Grace. Because God acted in grace to intervene in our lives. It's not because of what we've done but because of what He's done. That's grace. What would you be apart from grace?