By Hilla Huhtinen
Imagine this. Crowded streets, tall glass buildings, traffic jams and business suits. A cacophony of sirens and phones, hues of grey and a scent of money. Welcome to Sydney CBD.
This the story of Wayne. Well, not the whole story, rather a brief encounter in the heart of a great city. Look very closely in this bustling urban scene and you can see the works of Wayne’s hands. His work is not grand in its form. It is mere words written in chalk. Words which are trodden on by thousands of passers-by caught in the whirlwind of life. Yet, they are more precious than gold, sweeter than honey. The words ‘Praise God’ are scattered on the concrete pavements of the restless business district.
The encounter takes place on an afternoon like any other. A young woman makes her way through the streets. The plans of that evening’s dinner party on her mind. She is determined. Time is of the essence. As she scans the crowd before her, she spots a figure. A man sitting on the floor a note laid before him, face downcast, clothes torn and stained. His note catches her eye, she recognises the writing. It is the same as that which adorns the pavements of the city, which sings the praises of the Maker. Suddenly she stops. Rather hesitantly she turns and addresses him
‘Excuse me do you mind if I ask you a strange question? Is this your writing here on the pavement?’
The man lifts his head and fixes his eyes on the woman. She is struck by his clear and earnest gaze.
She points to his writing ‘I recognise this writing. Is it you who writes ‘Praise God’ on the inner-city streets?’
He nods. ‘Yes, me and my mate, on cold nights when it’s too cold to sleep, we walk around the city and we write on the pavement.’
They continue the conversation. He tells her of his life, his church and his terminal illness. How he is longing to meet His Lord, to enter His courts. She is filled with a deep sense of admiration and care for her brother.
This was a real encounter. The young woman is my sister. I remember the joy and eagerness in her voice as she recalled the story of Wayne and the gentleness and hope that shone through his eyes. A low figure which was passed by thousands of people, ignored, mistreated, cold and hungry. But a son of the King Most High.
Indeed, in the eyes of the world he does not have anything, apart from his piece of chalk. Though in truth he owns it all. It may not be the grandest of narratives, but it speaks of faithfulness and love. Furthermore, it points to one far greater than he. The one who has called Wayne from death to life, to be His forevermore. Wayne’s is that which the bounty of this world’s riches could not afford. His is the pearl; the Kingdom of Heaven.
When I think on the story of Wayne, how in the coolness of night, his body worn from fatigue he sets out to sing the Lord’s praises, I cannot help but be amazed. How can I be so slow to praise my King? The Lord is my Shepherd, I do not lack anything. Yet I am always wanting that which I do not have.
Wayne’s writing does not adorn the pavements of Sydney today. Our brother is with the Lord. But the message written in chalk should still echo in the streets. Indeed, let us ‘Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; sing praise to his name, for that is pleasant.’ Psalm 135:3