Shelly’s eyes weren’t asking for anything.

For pity, answers, respect, money, hope, love, or to be known.

They peeked through warm, brown, and peaceful between layers of hoods and scarves.

I had met her briefly last week, and before I had time to reintroduce myself this time, she began chatting away with me like we were old friends.

I was on my way to meet a dear friend for coffee at 7 am as we do every Thursday morning, and there was Shelly limping back and forth along the intersection in the dusty dark before dawn.

Every word that spilled from her mouth only spoke praise and glory and goodness and a heart filled up with the pain of the world and the hope of Jesus.

She told me,

How she spends her days walking along this intersection praying for everyone who passes and the city of Chicago.

How she wakes up at five and spends hours just talking to Jesus and reading His Word, and she couldn’t survive without it.

How she brings clothes and food to her other friends on the street who are hurting, and she tells them how much Jesus loves them. Her heart breaks for them as they slave to their addictions.

She was there, she told me. She turned away from God but He has wooed her back and now she is free and more joyful than ever.

That intersection was her mission field.

She told me how,

She volunteers at several churches and goes to several Bible studies with people who work for Apple and other wealthy corporations, and she tells me,

“You better believe God has His children everywhere – in the least likely of places, in the places that we think can’t be reached. I’ve met them and I pray for them. This is God’s world.”

Shelly has a sign around her neck and a cane in her hand, but these things will not define her. Nor will they strip her of her dignity. In fact, in humility, they will emphasize it.

And Holy Spirit testifies to that within me as I’m talking to her:

We can’t give or take anyone’s dignity, because dignity is only found when we humbly accept the free and undeserved gift of Christ – the only One worthy of dignity –

Who earned it for us when He was humiliated and stripped bare, mocked and friendless, cold and hungry and in pain.

For this is true dignity; Shelly has taught me in one interaction –

To know who and Whose we are, to know that every need and desire we have is already fulfilled in Christ, to want for nothing and demand no apology because the world could never give to us what we need and we deserve nothing. To only love the world, asking nothing from it but in confident security, to pour out for them that they may know Truth.

In Shelly’s humble dignity I saw only Christ.

I want to be more like Shelly.