that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
the time, because the days are evil.
ye not unwise, but understanding
will of the Lord is."
It was an
unusually cold day for the month of May. Spring had
arrived and everything was alive with color. But a
cold front from the North had brought winter's chill
back to Indiana. I sat with two friends, in the
picture window of a quaint restaurant just off the
corner of the towns-square. The food and company were
both especially good that day.
As we talked, my
attention was drawn outside, across the street. There,
walking into town was a man who appeared to be
carrying all his worldly goods on his back. He was
carrying, a well-worn sign that read, "I will work for
food." My heart sank. I brought him to the attention
of my friends and noticed that others around us had
stopped to focus on him. Heads moved in a mixture of
sadness and disbelief. We continued with our meal, but
this image lingered in my mind. We finished our meal
and went our separate ways.
I had errands to
do and quickly set out to accomplish them. I glanced
toward the town square, looking somewhat halfheartedly
for the strange visitor. I was fearful, knowing that
seeing him again would call for some response. I drove
through town and saw nothing of him. I made some
purchases at a store and got back in my car. Deep
within me, the Spirit of God kept speaking to me:
"Don't go back to the office until you've at least
driven once more around the square." And so, with some
hesitancy, I headed back into town.
As I turned the
square's third corner, I saw him. He was standing on
the steps of the storefront church, going through his
sack. I stopped and looked, feeling both compelled to
speak to him, yet wanting to drive on. The empty
parking space on the corner seemed to be a sign from
God ~ an invitation to park. I pulled in, got out, and
approached the town's newest visitor.
"Looking for the
pastor?" I asked.
"Not really," he
replied, "just resting."
"Have you eaten
today?" I asked.
"Oh, I ate
something early this morning," he answered.
"Would you like
to have lunch with me?"
"Do you have
some work I could do for you?" he said.
"No work," I
replied. "I connute here to work from the city, but I
would like to take you to lunch."
replied with a smile.
As he began to
gather his things, I asked some surface questions.
"Oh, all over;
"How long you
years," came the reply.
I knew I had met
someone unusual. We sat across from each other in the
same restaurant I had left earlier. His face was
weathered slightly beyond his 38 years. His eyes were
dark, yet clear, and he spoke with an eloquence and
articulation that was startling. He removed his jacket
to reveal a bright red T-shirt that said, "Jesus is
The Never Ending Story."
story began to unfold. He had seen rough times early
in life. He'd made some wrong choices and reaped the
consequences. Fourteen years earlier, while
backpacking across the country, he stopped on the
beach in Daytona. He tried to hire on with some men
who were putting up a large tent and some equipment. A
concert, he thought. He was hired, but the tent would
not house a concert, but revival services, and in
those services he saw life more clearly. He gave his
life over to God. "Nothing's been the same since," he
said. "I felt the Lord telling me to keep walking, and
so I did, some 14 years now."
"Ever think of
stopping?" I asked.
"Oh, once in a
while, when it seems to get the best of me. But God
has given me this calling. I give out Bibles. That's
what's in my sack. I work to buy food and Bibles, and
I give them out when His Spirit leads.
I sat amazed. My
homeless friend was not homeless. He was on a mission
and lived this way by choice. The question burned
inside for a moment and then I asked, "What's it
"What?" he said.
"To walk into
a town carrying all your belongings on your back and
to show your sign?" I inquired.
"Oh," he said,
"it was humiliating at first. People would stare and
make comments. Once someone tossed a piece of
half-eaten bread and made a gesture that certainly
didn't make me feel welcome. But then it became
humbling to realize that God was using me to touch
lives and change people's concepts of other folks like
My concept was
changing too. We finished our dessert and gathered his
things. Just outside the door, he paused. He turned to
me and said, "Come ye blessed of my Father and inherit
the kingdom I have prepared for you. For when I was
hungry you gave me food, when I was thirsty you gave
me drink, a stranger and you took me in."
I felt as if I
were on holy ground. "Could you use another Bible?" I
asked. He said he preferred a certain translation. It
traveled well and was not too heavy. It was also his
personal favorite. "I've read through it 14 times," he
said. "I'm not sure we've got one of those, but let's
stop by our church and see," I told him. I was able to
find my new friend a Bible that would do well, and he
seemed very grateful.
"Where are you
headed from here?" I asked him.
"Well," he said,
"I found this little map on the back of this amusement
asked, "Are you hoping to hire on there?"
answered, "I just figured I should go there. I figure
someone under that star right there needs a Bible, so
that's where I'm going next." He smiled, and the
warmth of his spirit radiated the sincerity of his
I drove him back
to the town-square where we'd met two hours earlier,
and as we drove, it started raining. We parked and
unloaded his things. "Would you sign my autograph
book?" he asked. "I like to keep messages from folks I
I wrote in his
little book that his commitment to his calling had
touched my life. I encouraged him to stay strong. And
I left him with a verse of scripture from Jeremiah: "I
know the plans I have for you," declared the Lord,
"plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to
give you a future and a hope."
he said. "I know we just met and we're really just
strangers, but I love you."
"I know," I
said, "I love you too."
"The Lord is
"Yes, He is. How
long has it been since someone hugged you?" I asked.
"A long time,"
And so, on the
busy street corner in the drizzling rain, my friend
and I embraced, and I felt deep inside that I had been
He put his
things on his back, smiled his winning smile, and
said, "See you in the New Jerusalem."
"I'll be there,"
was my reply.
He began his
journey again. He headed away with his bed roll and
pack of Bibles. He stopped, turned and said, "When you
see something that makes you think of me, will you
pray for me?"
My only answer
could possibly be, "You bet!"
Later, as I sat
back and reached for the emergency brake, I saw them ~
a pair of well-worn brown work gloves neatly laid over
the length of the handle. I picked them up and thought
of my friend and wondered if his hands would stay warm
that night without them. I remembered his words then,
and said a prayer for the visitor, my new friend.
(Author known to
If God calls you to
do something for Him,
He'll certainly see
you safely through.