Earlier I was reading a blog post that was really powerful, but I had such a strong response to that I had to stop and wonder why. You’ll have to go read it to fully understand, but in essence, Josh Collins reached out to truly see someone that most of us would overlook, a guy named Charlie.
I’ve never been that guy- the one who has so little, is unseen in society, or could disappear with no one noticing. So why did I connect? Because, if Austin is alive, he is no doubt one of “the least of these.” And I realize that Charlie is loved by someone and maybe even missed by someone.
He may be someone’s Austin.
My brother didn’t disappear because he wanted a different life or because he was on the run from criminal activity or afraid for his life. He didn’t take money and isn’t living the dream on an island in the Caribbean. Austin disappeared because he was ill, because depression had taken over, and because he’d stopped seeing that it could change. We believe that. The only missing piece is what happened after those last moments we know about. Did he become a Charlie? Or are we right in focusing our search on a search for remains? It’s unlikely, very unlikely, that he’s alive today. But if he is, he’s almost certainly living a life like Charlie.
And maybe someone like Josh Collins is showing him some compassion and seeing him just for a few moments as God does.
Josh wrote that he thought about Charlie’s family, and about where Charlie had been and was going. I pray that if Austin is out there somewhere today, that he encounters someone like Josh. Someone who can see him worthy of being acknowledged and spoken to, and even helped.
Sometimes it’s harder to picture Austin out there facing a hard life alone than it is to picture him in the arms of God. Sometimes for me, hope looks like the opposite of what people expect because of that and I shut out the possibility.
But I thank God that there are people willing to stop and see the Charlie’s of our world. Not just because that’s what God wants from us, but because in someone else’s story, Charlie may just be named Austin.
** Josh, you impacted more than just Charlie. Thank you.