This week’s blog post was written by my friend, Diane Virginia who is a wonderful story-teller. Her blog address and information will follow her post. Please take the time to visit her blog.
Recently, while I was eating at a local burger restaurant, I felt an inner nudge to visit a clothing store after I was done eating. I did so. As I arrived there, I saw a homeless man I recognized named Mike.
I got caught up between two car mirrors. That sure did catch Mike’s attention. He laughed, and we struck up a conversation and he asked for money.
“I can’t give you money, but I’ll be glad to buy you a meal. Do you like hamburgers?” I pointed toward the restaurant.
“Can I get a hot dog? Or two?”
“Sure. Let’s go get you two hot dogs. And we’ll get you fries, a drink, and ice cream.”
“I don’t want no ice cream. It’s too cold fer that.”
“I understand,” I said, but then I wondered if I really understood the bone-chilling cold this gentle soul faced every winter.
We started walking.
As I stepped inside the burger joint, Mike hovered at the door.
“It’s okay. Please… come inside.”
“Okay, but I’s gonna eat outside.”
As is often the case, a homeless person is so used to being shamed he/she often will not enter a building.
Mike entered and cautiously looked around. He was probably wondering if he would get kicked out.
The server looked at me, puzzled, “Back so soon? Did you decide to get ice cream?”
“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 had chips in his backpack that were “not too old to eat.” The entire order cost less than five dollars.
While we were waiting, Mike talked. I knew for sure this was God’s heavenly assignment so I listened to the still small voice within, knowing my Lord would guide our conversation. Mike shared his former employment as a painter. But that had been fifteen years prior. He had been unable to get disability even though he’d applied several times.
“Mike,” I said, “perhaps you haven’t been able to get disability because you can do something.”
“That’s what they says, too.”
“I can’t climb ladders no more.”
“So, what’s stopping you from trying something new?”
“I care about you so tell it to me straight. Do you want help to overcome that?”
By this time, Mike’s hot dogs had arrived. He could have fled, but instead, he bowed his head like he was determining whether I was a safe sounding board. Mike rested his hands open on to the bar top. I gently touched his wrist. Mike grasped my hand, and with sincerity that melted my heart, and bore his soul.
“Alls I got is my drinking. Some days it’s lonely, an’ a good drink takes the edge off. 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. So, I don’t want to give up my booze. We’s friends, that bottle an’ I. We’s old friends.”
“Would you believe me if I said you can have a new beginning?”
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature;
old things are passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
II Corinthians 5:17 KJV
“Is ye talkin’ bout Him? I likes Him, see?” Mike rolled up his sleeve and revealed a cross tattoo.
“Yes. Jesus has a good plan for you. And He is just the man to help you get unstuck. When was the last time you visited Him at church?”
“I walk past a church from where I sleep in the woods. I wants to go in. I think ‘bouts that a lot! Purty much always… But I don’t think they wants the likes of me.” Mike glanced at his attire and frowned.
I could sense Mike’s quandary. He could go to the house of God in worn clothes while he watched church members show up in their Sunday best. He knew he’d be the oddball.
“Blessed be thou, O LORD; teach me thy statutes!”
Psalm 119:12 RSV
There it was again rearing its ugly head—a creature named, “Shame” had browbeaten this gentleman once too often. I was ready to act.
I knew exactly why I was there. The same Spirit who had nudged me to drop by the store Mike was sitting at was also prompting Mike to attend a certain church, and my guess was there was a preacher who was being prompted to deliver a sermon that would be just what Mike needed to hear. I was pretty certain congregants would be sensing urges to welcome this gentle soul into their fold.
God was converging forces, in an attempt to rescue a soul who had wandered for over fifteen years.
“Listen to me, okay? You go to that church and you hold your head high. God loves you just as much as He loves the preacher at the pulpit and the people who attend. You are welcome there. They are most likely waiting for you to visit. So, this Sunday, go up to the church steps and go inside. Even if you’ve been drinking, go in anyway, okay? When you go inside, listen to the message, because I’m sure the pastor has written it just for you.”
“Is ye sure?”
“Yes. Do you believe me?”
“I hope so….”
“Hold onto that hope.”
I knew Mike would answer my next question as candidly as he answered the others.
“Mike, will you go to that church this Sunday?”
Mike put his hand to his chin.
“Yes. Imna go…”
“Can I pray with you? Because I’m pretty sure your new beginning will start when you walk through those church doors.”
“And ye shall seek me, and ye shall find me,
when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
And I will be found of you, saith the LORD.”
Isaiah 29:13 KJV
Mike removed his cap and grasped my hands before I asked him to. I felt the cold of his skin and the slenderness of his fingers clinging to my hands as if holding mine tightly would make his world straighten. I prayed and thanked Mike for allowing me to share part of his day. I hoped that because he relied on the generosity of others to provide meals, this also afforded him numerous opportunities to hear about how deep and wide the love of God truly is… I knew Mike’s new beginning would start when he chose to hold tightly to his Savior’s nail-scarred hands.
Father God, help me to hear Your inner voice. Fill me with love for those You send my way. Help me to help those who have lost their way, to discover the good plan You have for them. Help me to not be too busy to respond to Your Spirit-nudges, and to accept Your heavenly assignments.
Diane Virginia Cunio is the author of The Kiss of Peace: An Intimate Exploration into Song of Solomon (awaiting publication). She is passionate about sharing Beloved Jesus’ divine love for you, His bride, as allegorically portrayed in the vignette, Song of Solomon.
She has developed the model for motion-activated musical prayer-stations for use in the garden retreat, themed to the places you as Beloved’s bride travel to in Song of Solomon.
Diane is a regular contributor for Christian Broadcasting Network. She has written for Faith Beyond Fear, Pentecostal Publishing House, The Secret Place, and other ministries.