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‘Jesus is like that. When you are at the end of everything, you still have him. He’s always there when you’re truly in need.’

“I’ve been a junkie for a long time, pastor.”

His gaunt, cancer-ridden, AIDS-diseased body testified to the truth of his words. He was dying. There was no doubt about it. The rehabilitation program I was part of had placed him in an shabby, inexpensive hotel room to help keep him as comfortable as possible during his last days. I’d gone to visit him. He huddled, shivering under several blankets as we chatted about his life.

Life on the streets had been brutal for him. Eating out of dumpsters and sleeping on park benches all while constantly searching for heroin had all taken a toll. AIDS had ravaged his body, and now it kept him outside the community of the rehab center. It was a rough existence.

I had difficulty sitting at his bedside and seeing up close all the devastation. But his eyes were bright and engaging and revealed something deeper than the loss. “Since I’ve found Jesus,” he said, “I’m no longer running. I no longer crave the junk. It’s all kind of a miracle. I’m at peace.”

I rejoiced with him while choking back tears.

“Jesus is always with you, pastor. He’s like that $20 bill that every junkie hides in his shoe or stuffs in a hidden compartment in his wallet. If all hell breaks loose, a junkie always has that one last fix stashed away. Jesus is like that. When you are at the end of everything, you still have him. He’s always there when you’re truly in need.”

I asked him if he still had a $20 hidden somewhere. He grinned and told me he didn’t need it anymore. “All my needs are taken care of. I have a place to sleep, food to eat, and a roof over my head.” Then, he ruefully added, “Honestly, I always have a buck or two hidden away. Old habits die hard.” He smiled. “Besides, I might want a soda or something from the vending machine.” We laughed together, mostly to keep the tears away.

When I finally stood to leave, he asked me to grab his wallet from the table. I obliged and he pulled a dollar bill out of it and handed it to me.

I declined it, telling him, “You need it way more than me. After all, you may crave a soda.”

He smiled again. “I want you to take it, pastor. I want you to stick it in your wallet, and if you’re ever stone-cold broke, open your wallet and look at it and remember that Jesus cares for you and he will provide everything you need.”

I took it, folded it up, and put it in one of those little slots behind my driver’s license. He nodded approvingly. “You’d make a good junkie,” he laughed.

He died a few weeks later.

I open my wallet from time to time and take the dollar out—not because I’m broke, but because I need to remember that Jesus provides all I need.

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