Monday, October 4, 2010

Will Work For Food...

I did something today that some would say was "stupid" or "dangerous"....

...in truth, my actions today were probably stupid and dangerous.  But....I think it's no coincidence that the situation that was presented to me today came the day after my first reading in a church study we started yesterday titled "Radical"....

...author David Pratt writes about how Christianity in America has become far too comfortable.  He urges Christians to see what they are missing out on by holding back in their faith!  It is very much about leaving your comfort zone...something we all struggle with!

So, it is by no accident that today while I was tooling around town, meeting with clients, "schmoozing" with business owners and executive directors, I sat at a stop light in downtown Jefferson City, looking down at my freshly manicured nails, singing along to the new CD I had purchased over the weekend, thinking about a new pasta dish I would try for dinner, that I looked over and saw an elderly man, worn and weary, filthy with the city air, standing on the street corner, holding a sign that read "Will work for food." 

..."sad."  That was the thought that ran through my head.  But then I went right back to my thoughts of which grocery store would I shop that will carry the special cheese I would need for the new pasta dish recipe? 

And the light turned green, and I drove on...

...and then God intervened.

"Will work for food."  I said it out loud.  I said it to myself.  "What am I doing?"  I continued to talk out loud..."I'm worrying about where I'm going to buy cheese...and there is a man standing on the corner begging for food!" 

...and I heard the voice of God.  "Be radical."

I stopped my car on the side of the road.  My palms felt sweaty.  I took a deep breath and I thought..."this is crazy.  This isn't what God means....this isn't what God wants me to do."

But I knew in my heart that it was exactly what God wanted me to do.

I thought about texting hottie hubby....just to let him know what I was doing...just in case something happened, somebody would know where to start looking....

....trust in God....

"Be still and know that He is God...." a verse I have been focusing on the past several weeks.

I put my cell phone away in my purse.  I pulled my car back onto the road and I made a U-turn.  I pulled into the first parking space I could find close to the corner where the man stood and I parked my car.  I grabbed my purse and I walked towards the man.  "Be still and know that He is God...." I whispered it over and over to myself with each step closer to stepping "outside my comfort zone."

I approached the man, my legs shaking in uncertainty, my heart ready to beat out of my chest.  "Hello," I smiled and he stood, staring at me with sad eyes.  "Hi," he greeted me back.  "Can I treat you to something to eat or a cup of coffee?" I asked, pointing towards the coffee shop just a few blocks away.  "Do you have work for me?" he asked, a heaviness in his voice caused me to choke back the tears I could have so easily released.  "No, I don't have any work...but I would love to treat you to a bite to eat, please..."  He stood, looking at me.  I pointed down the road, "there is a coffee shop just down the street that has great food and hot coffee...." He smiled and agreed. 

...As we walked towards the coffee shop people passing by stared at this odd pair, one gentleman even asked me if I needed help.

A turkey sandwich, chips, a slice of chocolate cake and a cup of coffee....you would have thought I had just handed him a check for a million dollars.  I sat with this man, who I now know as Charles and I watched his face light up when I asked him to tell me about who he is.  How long had it been for Charles since someone was interested in who he is?  How long had it been for Charles since someone had engaged him in conversation?  Conversation...interest...such a simple notion to you and me, and yet an incredible gift to someone like Charles.

Charles is 65 years old.  Charles was married and has two children, but he has no idea where his wife and children are now.  Charles son would be 36...that's how old I am.  His daughter would be 32.  Charles lived in Kentucky with his wife and children.  He became an alcoholic and a gambler...he literally drank and gambled his life away.  One day Charles came home, after loosing his job at the factory and his wife and children were gone.  Their home had been foreclosed on, their cars had been repossessed...and his wife had had enough.  He carries the letter she left for him in his coat pocket.  A pocket that hangs by a tread...

He offered the letter to me to read...but I declined, feeling that it was too personal for me to impose.  He smiled and placed the letter back into his pocket. 

...I shared with Charles that I too was living a life that was "detrimental" to my family.  A life of misery for my husband as he played the role of both mother and father while I ran with people that were half my age, they had no families to care for...I had nothing in common with these people.  My husband was on the brink of divorcing me...my family was slowly falling apart....

..."What changed?"  Charles asked me as he scrapped the last bit of chocolate cake from his plate.

I sat quietly.  My eyes began to sting with tears.  It sounded so cliche...

"God changed me."  my voice cracked and I swallowed my sob..."God placed good people in my life and allowed my heart to open up to His love and peace."

"God is good," Charles smiled..."and so are you." 

"You are too."  I don't know Charles...I only knew what he had just shared with me...and honestly, how do I know that it was the truth?  I don't.  But I felt that Charles was a good man, and most importantly, I felt that Charles needed to hear that he was a good man.

I sat with Charles for almost two hours in a small coffee shop just up the street from where I work.  I smiled at the people that came in and out of the coffee shop, looks of confusion towards a business woman and a homeless man sharing coffee together...

As we walked back out onto the street together I gave Charles all the cash I had in my wallet...a whopping thirty dollars.  "Get some dinner tonight Charles" I said as I placed the money in his dirt stained hands.  He thanked me and we walked our separate ways...

..."Hey Charles!" I yelled back..."Wait!"  Charles stopped and waited for me as I made my way towards his path.  "Can you walk me to my car?" I asked...admittedly as panic flashed through my thoughts of what are you doing???  But I was trusting in God....

Charles and I walked to my car parked just a few feet from where I found Charles.  I opened the back of my SUV and I pulled out my pink monogrammed bag that carries my Bible, my "Radical" book and my journal.  Inside my bag was a Bible that I had picked up off a clearance rack at a local bookstore.  At the time of the purchase I wondered why I was buying the Bible...I didn't need another Bible, but something told me to buy it.  Now I know why...

I grabbed the Bible I had bought just a few weeks before and I handed it to Charles.  "I know God can change your life too."  Charles took the Bible from my hands and he looked back at me and said, "Thank you.  You must be one of God's angels.  Nobody has been this nice to me in many years."

Charles walked away...a Bible in one hand and a cardboard sign that reads "Will work for food" in the other.

Want to know the truth?  I think that Charles is the angel...sent by God, to allow me the opportunity to experience what "radical" means.  To step outside my comfort zone and befriend a man that society tells me I should ignore. 

Thank you Jesus, for the many blessings you have bestowed upon me.  Thank you for the opportunity to share a hot meal, a fresh cup of coffee and a bit of happiness with a man that otherwise would have stood on the corner of the street, being passed up by people that are comfortable in how they live each day.  Thank you for teaching me what it means to trust in you completely.  And thank you for the "radical" way in which you lived your life, and the sacrifice you made on the Cross to allow us the grace and the mercy that we receive from you each and every day!

9 comments:

  1. Wow. In tears. You're a wonderful person. I linked to this post in my blog. Hope that's okay.

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  2. That is just wonderful what you did. This will make me think twice when I see a person in need.

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  3. Thank you Bets...I needed that! I seem to have lost my "radical"! I shared this with a few friends.

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  4. Too cool, Betsy - thanks for sharing!

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  5. What a nice thing to do. Wish I had your guts!

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  6. Thank You for a great post. Honesty & God...two things that need to be in one's life!

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