He went home the other day, the prodigal who'd been gone so long. I know I've written before about my brother, Homeless Mark, but I wanted to expand on my thoughts a little and explain a bit more what his life meant to me.
He was the most amazing picture of the Prodigal Son but this man did not stop short of eating the pig slop. I have no idea how he became Homeless Mark to begin with. I'm pretty certain that when the teacher asked in Kindergarten what he wanted to be a homeless addict was not top on his list. I had only spoken with him briefly here and there, even offended him once while he was intoxicated. The amazing thing about this man is that he was always searching. He took longer than that long lost son portrayed in Holy Scriptures, but he was just as looked for, just as beloved, perhaps even more so due to the length of his absence from his Father and how base he had become. He had a Bible he brought around with him and other very large and heavy scripture resource books. In cartoons we often see the little shoulder apparitions, devil on one side and angel on the other. In his world the devil was very real in the addiction that held him for so long. The angel seemed to evade him.
What my older brother has taught me is that he is not the exception to the rule, he is the example of the rule. Sometimes we think that people like him with amazing stories like his are one in a million but they're not, it's all about perspective. Many were able to see Mark's incredible transformation. Some areas of his brain were affected irrevocably by the life he'd lived, but the heart of this man longed for his Lord. Each man woman and child has that same longing even if we never see any movement at all let alone a miraculous transformation. Yet we are called to give regardless of what kind of fruit we think we can see. We're supposed to stand and talk to those society calls unlovely, not just the starving children in Africa, but the filthy ones right here, right down the street holding up a sign. I'm not foolish enough to think that all those with signs are noble and have just lost their way, there certainly can be many other motives, or devils, involved there, but when we give to them we are giving to Christ.
Mark helped us all learn to give offerings of ourselves to Christ through himself without even knowing it. He taught us that lovely or unlovely we are all welcome. He taught us to accept into the wedding feast all who Christ has called without questioning the Bridegroom's invitation list. We were blessed and humbled to see each agonizing step he took, sometimes crawling or clawing his way, to his heavenly Papa who'd been waiting all this time...waiting to place those sandals on Mark's feet and have the fatted calf prepared and include all creation in the rejoicing of His son's return.
That son is home. He is not Homeless Mark, his home was being prepared all this time. He has returned to his Father. He is at peace and in his right mind. He will be buried Monday and many will mourn him. His life was truly a testimony of God's grace and mercy toward us whether we realize we're prodigals or not.
May His grace and mercy lead us all HOME ~ Memory Eternal