Homeless, Hungry & Alone… chapter 6

Posted: January 31, 2011 in Homeless, Hungry & Alone...
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Chapter 6

Fast – Day 14

Saturday morning – WOW – what a night… and I’m not talking about a really good party!  The wind literally blew all night! – 40 mph!  Inside the tent it sounded like a freight train, but praise God, the tent stayed upright and intact! Needless to say though, I didn’t get much sleep.  My wife offered me some earplugs, but I said ‘no’ – I was concerned with not waking up to my cell phone alarm.  I was wearing socks, sweats, several layers of sweatshirts, two knit hats and gloves – inside a sleeping bag, but oh, I was still cold!    But, that’s okay.  I’m not here to necessarily be ‘comfortable’.  I think of the retired lady next to me who slept in a cardboard box covered by a tarp – and she was thinking about not even using a sleeping bag… just laying inside the box!  Makes me feel like a big ‘Wus’! Really, as difficult as it may be, I’d much rather have my life ‘marked’ by compassion, empathy, love, sacrifice… the Gospel, than by comfort, ease, security and safety. Again, thank you Lord for the opportunity to be here – homeless, hungry and alone – ‘stretching’ myself and living, even if for a short time, outside of my ‘box’… or inside it – depending upon your perspective J

It’s challenging to crawl out of my tent this morning.  As cold as I feel inside my sleeping bag, I know it’s so much colder outside… and the wind is still blowing!!  But, I must.  I want to read some out of my Bible and spend a some time with Jesus before I head home and get ready for some friends who are coming up from Yakima today.

“Come to me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest.  Accept my teachings and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit, and you will find rest for your lives. The burden that I ask you to accept is easy; the load I give you to carry is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Even after my skin has been destroyed, in my flesh I know I will see God. I will see Him myself; I will see Him with my very own eyes. How my heart wants this to happen.  Job 19:26-27

It’s interesting how I found it challenging this morning to focus on reading and praying because I was so cold sitting in my tent and being distracted by the gusts of wind that would shake my tent.  My mind kept wandering to “what can I do to get warm and is my tent going to survive the day?”  I wonder what frequent thoughts are on the minds of those living on the streets?


Had an awesome afternoon and evening with our friends from Yakima.  We talked, laughed, watched football (both the Steelers and Packers won).  It’s so great seeing the both of them curious and hungry about God, His Word and life as Christians.   They are growing!

It’s 11:45pm – just got here to the tent – so late!  Our friends just left a short time ago to head back home to Yakima.  It rained most of the day and the wind blew – was concerned  how my tent would be when I got to it tonight…but it is still up and mostly dry on the inside.  It feels a bit strange leaving my wife and our nice warm, cozy and dry home to sleep in a tent by myself in the rain and wind… but I know it’s for a reason.  I keep telling myself, “This is the adventure that you wanted and prayed for!”  I’ve had a very full day and am getting very sleepy.  I’m going to slip into my sleeping bag and try to get warm and get some sleep.  I’m looking forward to church tomorrow morning!

Fast – Day 15

Sunday morning – another wild night! The wind was incredible!  I think the weather forecast expected wind gust over 40 mph again! There was a few times it woke me up and I thought that my tent was going to cave in on me.  Nothing like being alone, in the dark, the wind howling outside, cold and wondering if your only form of shelter is going to withstand the treacherous weather outside? What would I do if my tent collapsed on top of me at 2am?! I could feel a bit of anxiousness creeping in – the unknown, the uncertainty… the helplessness.  This must be, at least in part what the homeless feel every night!  The reality is, if ‘push came to shove’, I could always go back to my warm, comfortable home… but, where do the homeless go when life gets overwhelming and there is little they can do to fix it themselves?  Hmmm…

This morning as I was laying in my sleeping bag listening to the wind and watching my tent move in and out like bellows, I thought about the story Jesus told about the wise builder who built his house on a rock and when the storms and the floods came, his house still stood… because he had purposefully built his home on a solid foundation.  Although my tent was being battered by the wind and at times it looked like it was going to cave in, each time the wind died down, the tent bounced back to it’s original designed shape… keeping me safe and sound inside.  Why?  When my wife and I set it up the first time, we purposefully set it up to withstand the extreme weather that could come.  We made sure that all the corners were staked down and we made sure that the rainfly was on and tightly secured.  My life is like this tent.  It’s guaranteed that the storms will come and bash against me with immense force, causing me to sway at times – causing me to sometimes tilt like I’m going to fall.  If I haven’t purposefully secured my ‘tent’, and positioned myself for protection, the storm will eventually get to me.  The only guaranteed security, safety and shelter from the harshness of life is a relationship with Jesus Christ.  He said, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, for I have overcome the world!” As much as we would like to try, alone, we cannot withstand the brutality of life’s storms… eventually, they will overtake us. Not only am I very thankful that my tent is securely staked down in the midst of this intense wind and rain, but I’m so glad that my life in staked down in Jesus Christ.  He is my security, safety and shelter during life’s challenges and storms.

I want kindness more than I want animal sacrifices.” Matthew 21:7 This was Jesus’ response to the Pharisees who were accusing Him and His disciples of ‘working’ on the Sabbath Day.  This has been an on-going lesson for me as well – the life that God approves of is one of love, not necessarily the ‘law’ or following all the rules.  Jesus said that the most important law of all is to love God and love people… because if I do this, then automatically, all the other ‘rules’ will fall into place under those.  It just works that way.  I think the challenge for those of us who can struggle with the love vs. law thing is that it seems ‘easier’ to just focus on following the rules than to focus on loving God and people intentionally.  The ‘law’ is much more ‘black & white’. But this is what got the Pharisees in ‘hot water’.  They turned God’s original 10 Commandments into about 640 of their own laws and then judged others according to their own 640! The more they focused on ‘following all the rules’, the less capacity they had to love God and love others.  As Paul said, “The law brings death, but the spirit gives life.” The Spirit of God lives in and through our love – not in our ‘rule following’.  He desires our love  first and foremost over everything else.  It is only through loving God and putting Him first that I will gain true life in Him.  Why?  No matter how hard I can try to follow all the rules and obey every commandment, I will fail.  Somewhere along the line, I will mess up… and probably more often than I’d like to admit.  Just messing up once makes me unworthy to be in God’s presence – so, there’s got to be some other way to get to Him.  Praise God there is – it’s through loving Him and believing in His Son whom He sent to die for my ‘mess ups’.  There is no other way.  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.  There is no other way to the Father, except through me.” John 14:6

Lord, I repent for my religiosity – focusing on the ‘rules’ instead of the ‘love’.  I want to love you and love others as my main focus.  Help me to live a life in which I put ‘kindness’ and ‘love’ in the front of everything else.  Help me to continually ask the question… what would love do? Amen!


Church was great this morning.  Pastor Wes spoke about how personal transformation comes only through the Holy Spirit.  That Satan puts a veil over the eyes of unbelievers – trying to keep them from seeing their need for Jesus – and only Jesus can remove that veil.  A gentleman from work whom I invited awhile ago came this morning with a friend.  It was good to see him.  They both seemed to feel welcome and ‘at home’.  I hope and pray they will return.

Because of the intense wind and rain the last couple of days, I’ve decided to ‘pitch’ one of my smaller tents (3 man dome).  Although, the larger tent has been okay, the smaller dome tent is better built to withstand the wind.  I went down this afternoon before it gets dark.  The wind is still very strong and collapsing tents around me. Crazy!!  I was having a challenging time trying to collapse the larger tent and putting up the smaller one by myself in the wind.  Actually, I was laughing at myself… hoping that no one was watching me… or worse yet, videoing me… I’m sure I looked hilarious – but, I was getting frustrated!  The weather wasn’t being very cooperative! However, ‘out of the blue’, this gentleman, Michael, came over whom I had never seen before and started talking with me.  He offered to help me set up and take down my tents!  He was like an angel!  On top of his help, there was another huge blessing that came from this ‘stranger’.  Remember a few blogs back when I talked briefly about a destitute man (I’ll call him Dave for the sake of this story), who had come on Sunday morning to church (for food), but was planning on committing suicide that day?  God used me that day to keep him from doing something horrible. I’d lost contact with him however, but have been praying for him.  Michael was on foot, so I gave him a ride home and to my amazement as we talked about who we knew around town, he’s Dave’s landlord. Michael is ‘renting’ out his garage to Dave. Thanks to God’s perfect timing and networking, I now know where he lives. He can run, but he can’t hide… from the love of Christ that is!

It’s 9pm and I’m back in my tent again.  The wind outside is howling and shaking my tent horribly – wind gusts are up to 70 mph tonight!  My poor tent – I just came in from checking all my stakes to make sure they were secure.  This should be an interesting night! Literally, the sides of my tent are bellowing in and out and shaking immensely from the wind. Many of the tents are still up, although I think some of the campers are unable to stay during the workweek, but they have left their tents up for the coming weekend. However, the wind has done a ‘number’ on many of the tents already.  Some of the campers will be very surprised when they return!

As I crawl shivering into my cold sleeping bag, I can’t help but say a silent prayer – Lord, I will keep telling myself that I know you have a purpose and plan in me being out here… because if I don’t, then I’m going to start to wonder if I’ve lost a few ‘screws’ somewhere along the way!  This is crazy (but I’m actually lovin’ the adventure!!).  I’ve been learning so much and the Lord is showing me some very cool things – it just seems like a pretty harsh way to learn! The funny thing is – I don’t think I would be learning the same things (or not in the depth that I have) if I were sitting in my nice warm house instead of our here in this cold, dark and lonely tent.  I think I just posted something not too long ago that said “Live your life in such a way that is worth telling stories about!”

What will tomorrow bring…?

  1. Aunt Jo says:

    Dear Brian, You ARE a compassionate man to do what you did (to see how others have to live), as much as I trust in God I don’t think I could have done it, I’m with Deb, This city girl isn’t up for that. :). I am proud of you for doing this, stepping out of your comfort zone like that. 3 more days til you and Deb are here ( but who’s counting)lol. with love.

    • brian hetzer says:

      Hey Aunt Jo – thank you! It’s been quite the experience going through this. It’s also been a huge blessing being able to share my story with others. I’ve been trying to write in a way that the reader can in some part ‘feel’ what I’ve experienced. i love the adventure! See you in a few days!!

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