Christmas play practice was in full swing. After all there was only three days till the performance. Props had to be built. Costumes had to be ironed. Lines rehearsed. This was on going on during a big snow storm. Inside it was warm, fast-paced, and busy. Outside it was dark, cold and the snow was swirling around covering everything.
Right before Away In The Manger, a stranger walked in the side door. The music stopped. The children stared. The play director asked if she could help. He said, "I need to speak to the pastor." The director sent him to me, the pastor's wife. I saw him coming. I must tell you the truth I was a little frightened. I thought to myself, "What does he want? Was he here to cause trouble? Calming myself down I said a little prayer, "Lord, give me wisdom and let me be a help."
The man introduced himself. He told me he had left Illinois to go to Georgia to get a job. He had only been there one week and found out that his daughter was sick. He was on his way back to Illinois and his truck's alternator broke. It cost him $183.56 to get it fixed. He came to West Virginia via the toll road and didn't even have the money to pay the tolls. He said. "I know it's late. I hate to ask this, but can you spare $15 to $20."
I looked deep into his eyes. He seemed to be sincere. You never can tell people can be very greedy at Christmas time. He could just be trying to take me for a fool. I told him to have a seat and I would make a few calls.
He sat down in the back of the sanctuary. I tried to call the lady who tends to needs like this, but no one answered. So I called my husband. I explained the situation to him. He said he would send down $20 via my oldest son. I went to the back of the church to tell the stranger that some money was coming.
Meanwhile, the play practice proceeded. We began at Away In The Manger. The lights were dimmed. The small children walked up the center isle. They took their place on the stage. They did sign language to the song. It was so sweet to watch them as they did their signs.
My son walked in the side door. He handed me the money with a puzzled look on his face. I told him it was for the stranger. I took the money back to the man. He looked up at me with tears in his eyes and said, "Thank you. Also, thank you for letting me see the children. It was so beautiful." I walked him to the door and gave him a church brochure that contained the gospel message in it. We shook hands. And the stranger walked out into the cold, dark night.
He came because he saw the light. He felt sure that some one inside could help. I wonder if we are aware of our opportunities. Do we treat each interruption as a avenue to help? We never know when we are entertaining angels unaware.
Our Christmas stranger came. We helped. We will not know till heaven what good we did. The lesson I revisited was...make the most of every opportunity!
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