Each day he stuffed all his belongs into the shopping cart and worked his way to Grand Central Terminal in New York City. He had an important job to do he told himself. He stopped in and bought a cup of coffee and a bagel from some money he had left from yesterday. That allowed him to use their bathroom and clean up a little. He didn’t want to smell so bad no one would come near him. That was bad for business.
He looked at the gray in his beard and for a moment he froze and wondered who was this person looking at him in the mirror? It couldn’t be him! Then sadly he shook the cobwebs from his brain and remembered he hadn’t always been like this. He had never gotten much education but his momma had taught him right from wrong. He was always good with his hands and worked on cars for a living when he got older.
Somewhere in the wild years of his twenties he had gotten into the drugs. Slowly, before he realized where the years had gone, the drugs took over. He had lost his job, his wife and any self respect he might have had. All that counted was that next high and it went on like that for more years than he could remember. Then one day his life was half over and he let go of the drugs. Just like that. People say that doesn’t happen but for him it did. He had walked into that chapel to get out of the rain and listened to the young preacher talk about forgiveness from God. He had gotten down on his knees and cried a lifetime of tears and asked to be forgiven. The hunger for something missing in his soul was finally satisfied.
But he was old and he had no skills and no place to call home unless you call the shelter that gave him a bed each night "home". They had to leave during the day and that’s when he found his “job”. He had walked by Grand Central many times and this day he had walked by praying his morning prayer. “Give me something useful Lord” he said each day. That day he found himself stopping dead in his tracks. "Look around the voice" seemed to say, so he looked. He saw young mothers struggling with the door with one hand and a child in the other hand. People battling the heavy doors with suitcases at the same time. He simply walked up and started holding out the doors and smiling at people. Have a good day now! He’d say. Some started putting coins in his hand. By the end of the day he enough for a decent meal and some left over for breakfast the next day. But more important, he had seen the looks of gratitude from those who had no money to press into his hand.
So for the last year he had gotten up each morning and made his way to his job.
He started having a little more left over after his meals and took to saving it in an old sock he carried with him each day. He had also become a regular in the little chapel nearby. A lot of homeless people went there in the winter to get out of the cold. He found himself listening to them and telling them about the joy he had found in Jesus. Sometimes they listened and sometimes he knew they came over because he might give them a dollar or two.
But now he had a big decision and he waited for the young preacher to be alone before he approached him. They had talked many times this past year and he thought maybe they were even friends. He hesitated to use that word because it had been so long since he had been close to anyone.
“Pastor Evans, how ya doin’?”
“Fine, Joe, how’s it going for you today? How’s the job?”
“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about. I’ve been able to save a little and I was thinkin’ maybe I could get me a small place, just a room mind you, but some where I could keep my clothes. I was hoping you might be able to help me?”
Pastor Evans closed his eyes and asked God to lead him. A church sponsored half way house for the homeless had been founded in Brooklyn despite the protest from some of the residents. It was important they put only people who could stay drug and alcohol free there. Joe had been faithful but he knew some of the people on the board might think of him still as a beggar and wouldn’t see his kindness in Grand Central as a job! But if there was anyone that qualified in his mind it was Joe.
“I might know just the place Joe, but I will have to get back to you.”
“I’ve been keeping count and I figure I can give $50 a week for it”.
Pastor Evans smiled thinking that might impress the board. Most came with nothing but traded off work in the house for board.
They said goodbye and Pastor Evans went out to do spiritual battle for Joe.
It had been two years since he had moved into the place. Joe made sure he kept his place spotless though it was only big enough for a bed, chest of drawers and a small desk. But he at least had been able to get rid of the shopping cart. It was hard giving that cart away though; he had been so fearful he would need it again.
He was a fixture now at Grand Central and even knew some of the people by name. He started having a cup of coffee each day down in the food court area and one day one of the regulars looked real bad off. He had somehow found the courage to sit and talk with him. Lord, that man had troubles!
So now he had a second job, opening doors and watching for people in need of a good word in the food court.
He wondered what made him go into that chapel that night so long ago.
"Because you finally listened to my voice."
He smiled as he remembered vaguely the voice he had heard that night, "come on in, it’ll warm your soul!”
He remembered looking around and seeing no one, figured that last hit must have been a whopper but well, he was cold.
"Thank you God for no more cold nights", he prayed silently.
Oh if we could al be as gratefull! How often do we take the little things in our lives for granted, sometimes it is "things" that are what get in our way of serving the Lord. People like "Joe" who serve the Lord, when they don't have anything, is such a testimony to the forgivness of our Lord!
Donna, this wonderful story warms me to the bone. What a sweet reminder of God's mercy. "He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy and He will harden whom He will harden." I'm so glad that His mercy endures forever. Sister, I am blessed, blessed, blessed by the read.