Psalm 119:12 – Blessed art thou, O Lord: teach me thy statutes. (KJV)
Recently, while I was at a local restaurant, I kept feeling a nudge in my spirit to go to a clothing store when I finished eating. As I arrived there, I recognized a homeless man named Mike. We struck up a conversation.
"I can't give you money, but I'll be glad to buy you a meal." I pointed toward the restaurant.
"Can I get a hot dog? Or two?"
"Sure. Let's get you two hot dogs. And ice cream too."
"It's too cold fer that."
"I understand," I said, but then I wondered if I really understood the bone-chilling cold that Mike faced every winter.
As I stepped inside the restaurant, Mike hovered at the door.
"Please… come inside."
As is often the case, a homeless person is used to being shamed, so they will not enter a building.
Mike cautiously looked around.
The server was puzzled, "Back so soon?"
"My friend is hungry. Mike, tell the lady what you want."
"I wants a hot dog."
"Make that two, please."
Mike was modest with his order. To drink, he asked for a cup of water without ice. He didn't order fries because he said that he had chips in his backpack that were "not too old to eat." The entire order cost less than five dollars.
I recognized that this was God's heavenly assignment. I prayed for guidance. We talked about Mike's employment as a painter fifteen years prior. He couldn't get disability.
"Perhaps you can do something."
"That's what they says."
"I can't climb ladders no more."
"I care about you, Mike, so tell it to me straight. Do you want help with that?"
By this time, Mike's hot dogs had arrived, but he stayed put.
"Lotsa days, it's cold 'specially when the winds a-knockin' at ye collar like it was last night. If I takes to the bottle, I don't feel it as bad."
"You can have a new beginning…"
"Is ye talkin' bout Him? I likes Him, see?" Mike rolled up his sleeve to reveal a cross tattoo. "I walk past a church from where I sleep in the woods. I think 'bouts goin' in ta learn 'bout 'Him. But they won't want the likes of me." Mike glanced at his attire.
There it was again, rearing its ugly head — a creature named "shame" had browbeaten this gentle man once too often. I was ready to act.
The same Spirit who had nudged me to drop by a store was also prompting Mike to attend a certain church, and my guess was that a preacher was preparing a sermon just for Mike. God was converging forces in an attempt to rescue a man who had wandered for fifteen years.
"Mike, God loves you as much as the preacher. You are welcome there. So, this Sunday, even if you've been drinking, go inside."
I knew that Mike needed Jesus. I thought about this verse: "And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:13 KJV)
I knew that Mike would answer my next question as candidly as he had answered the others.
"Will you go to that church this Sunday?"
"Can I pray with you?"
I felt the cold of Mike's skin and the slenderness of his fingers clinging to mine, as if holding my hands tightly would make his world straighten. As we prayed, I hoped that Mike would choose to hold as tightly to his Saviour's nail-scarred hands.
Prayer: Father God, help us to pay attention when Your Holy Spirit nudges us. Fill us with love and compassion for those whom You send our way. Help us to lead each of these individuals to Christ. Amen.
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