Sitting on that bench, I began praying for an opportunity. Praying for a soul that was thirsty for living water. Praying for confidence to accomplish what I came to do. With no luck sitting on the bench, I began to walk. As I was walking alone down town that Saturday evening, I began getting frustrated at my lack of strength. Each person that passed me by was a missed opportunity. Locking eyes with strangers, yet having no courage to muster up a simple “hello.” I have this inner boldness that wants to speak with them, but my outer being cowers. Ugh! Why am I so afraid?!
Frustrated, I began heading back to the bench I started out sitting on. As I was about to abort mission, I looked down and saw a man sitting on the sidewalk. He looked to be about 30, with a torn up hat on, and a small bag next to him. He was very skinny, with blondish hair, and big blue eyes. He said hello, I said hello. This is my chance! I thought. I asked him how he was doing, and he showed me the book he was reading. It was a worn down, raggedy, book of the New Testament. He was reading the book of Matthew! Oh, this must be the divine meeting I’ve been praying for!
“Wow!” I said. “I brought my Bible to read, too!” I politely asked him if I could sit with him and he said “of course!” As I sat down on that hot cement next to this stranger, we began talking about the birth of Christ. Ignoring his smell that kept drifting toward my nose, we talked about his family, or lack thereof, and where he had come from. “I’m a wanderer,” he said. “I’m looking for my inner peace.”
Not wanting to get all “bible thumper-y” on him, I sat and listened as he rambled on. He had a small white plastic sack with him, that I assume were the only clothes he had. He was very respectful and more insightful than I expected. (Don’t we always have that annoying, preconceived judgment) He quietly asked me if I would go to dinner with him, and that he knew of a small brewery/eatery near where we were sitting. I informed him that I am not looking to date (which is the truth). Toward the end of the conversation, I could tell he was getting somewhat antsy. He was ready for me to go.
After almost 45 minutes, as I was getting ready to say good-bye, he asked me for a couple dollars to do his laundry. I began having that small argument within myself telling myself to NOT give him any money, while my other self said “if you have it, give it.” I gave him $5.00. He was very grateful, and attempted to give me one of those free newspapers that you can pick up at any grocery store or gas station in exchange for the $5. I declined the old newspaper but told him if he would let me pray for him that we could call it even. Excitedly, he grabbed my hand and said “We can both pray! 1, 2, 3, GO!”
I chuckled, and he looked over at me. I said “We’re going to start praying at the exact same time?!” He smiled and said that he would go first. He held my hand and prayed the only thing he knew to pray. When he was finished, I said my prayer.
After he helped me up, I hugged him and told him how glad I was to meet him. I let him know that he had made my night. I asked him if he often sat in this location and maybe someday we would see each other again. As we parted ways, I am sure that I smiled all the way back to that bench. My spirit had been uplifted. I felt I had done what God asked me to do. I sat on my bench for about another 15 minutes before getting in my car pondering this absolute divine meeting.
I got into my car and started driving down the road I had come from. If I am being completely honest, I sat on that bench for 15 minutes because I didn’t want this man to see me get into my car. Then, I get stopped by a train.
As I’m sitting in my cozy car, impatiently waiting for the train to pass, pondering the divine meeting I just had with this man…. I look to my left and guess who I see. You guessed it, the man I had sat on the side walk with. And can you guess what was he saying out loud (very loudly) to himself without recognizing I was right there? “I got my shit! I got my shit!” he sang as he skipped toward the road. He finally looked over at me and before taking his second glance, he said, “That looks like that chick I just met! Wait a minute, it is!” By this point, I am assuming that his clothes are still dirty after the laundry money I gave him. No one can do laundry that fast. What shit was he talking about exactly? The world may never know.
I suppose that divine moments can turn into very un-divine timing.
“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!” (Hebrews 13:2)