Fire and Brimstone

Sheltered behind the dumpster.  The metal gives solitude from the weather.  Boxes and trash enclose him from above and from the sides.  He is lower than the people who live in these slums, lower than the animals that live in packs around him, lower than the rats that feed on the very food he scavenges.  But he gives this no thought.

His long hair has matted on one side and become solid and never flowing.  It partially sticks to and covers the right side of his face.  He now adds to the stench of the dumpster.  Smelling worse than any of the rotten food or garbage that has become a safety for him.  Years ago, he couldn’t say when, he found a discarded parka.  Slipping it on, it has never left his body since.  It has kept him alive during the coldest winters but it has almost been his death in the hottest summers.  As the cold winds begin to blow, it will be a benefit to have another layer.  But he gives this no thought.

I have only described the physical.  But dare to look into his eyes and you will see something deeper.  Something spiritual.  His eyes are glazed over.  He is void of this world and given to another.  The claws of demons cut into his flesh, these prickles are his torment.  Such an easy host, the demons surrounding him can not be counted.  If we, humans, could see them, we would have no vision of the man, he would be completely covered.  They cover his ears to hear, his eyes are blinded from sight.  Taste is numbed so that he gives no thought to consuming rotten food left by the dogs.  How much longer will he lay here in anesthetized hell?  But he gives this no thought.

There is a rumor on the streets.  A whisper among the people, a giggle among the children.  They talk of a name that heals all sins.  His very name is a power to be respected.  His mercy cures a drug addict, his grace brings a husband home to his wife, his love is a friend to the rejected.  There is a whisper among the slums.  But he gives this no thought.

The alley has become less comfortable.  There is a torturing light that has begun to glow, even in the darkness.  The pile of demons has become thinner.  Their host is now too close to the angelic army that has begun to march on that town.  But our possessed man gives no thought to this.

There are children on the street.  They sing a lovely tune.  It floats through the streets and down the alley.  They sing a name.  A powerful name.  The name floats down the street, through the alley, and behind the dumpster.  There is a shriek, a demonic shriek.  And if you could see it, if you could see the spiritual, you would see a demon float into the air like a streamer picked up by a gust of wind.  There came a break in the demonic barrier, his ear was exposed.  He heard a rumor.  He heard a whisper of a name.  And then you would see, even if you only saw the physical, you would see a head pop out from behind the dumpster.  And if you would dare to look into his eyes, they did not look so glazed over as before.  A name.  A whisper of a name.  He thinks about this name.


24 thoughts on “Fire and Brimstone

  1. It was my job at Woolworth’s in 1974 on 4th Avenue in Anchorage, AK to check the dumpsters for winos before the garbage truck came. We kept them in a locked fenced in area and the metal ids were locked down to the dumpsters, but they still managed to climb the fence bend up a corner of the lids and climb in! I had to unlock everything and pull them out nearly every afternoon when I arrived at work before the garbage men came.
    Saw many of those faces at age 17!


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  2. “How did I find myself in a better place. Can’t look down on the frown on the other guys face. But if I stoop down low and look him square in the eye. I get a funny feeling…I just might be dealing…with the face of Christ.” – Chris Rice

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  3. Many men as you describe came to our mission to get a meal, a bed and a shower for the coldest nights. Some left after few days. Many joined our one-year recovery program and were assigned to me to see them through recovery and teach them about Jesus and God’s love and better plan for their life. I witnessed many miracles of the Savior changing derelicts of humanity into fully-blossomed witnesses of Christ’s power over hopelessness, as they helped others just coming in the door for the first time. And yet in all those years, I remember one that got away. He left suddenly and I later heard he froze to death sleeping in an abandoned house in the city. It strikes me that I feel great loss for the ones that rejected help after tasting the goodness of the Savior.

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