TITLE: Convicted by Curly
By Sheila Bird
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Convicted by Curly
I’ll never forget the day I met Curly. In all my days I have never seen anyone that looked or acted quite like he did. He was very small in stature. His clothes were a bit oversized and tattered and yet he was as friendly as someone decked out in the finest of fashion and style. His hair was matted and tousled and his face was a bit smudged. He introduced himself to me in an unobtrusive way and without a moment’s hesitation he began to testify of his love for Jesus. For one brief moment I was his captive audience. I stood there and listened with curiosity as he chatted away completely uninhibited by his surroundings. Then he amazed me as he slowly lowered his voice to a whisper and began to softly sing. He sang a little children’s tune with all his heart, “Cristo me ama, bien lo se. La Biblia dice así.” I recognized it right away, “Jesus Loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” He continued to sing in the Spanish language although he spoke English in a surprisingly articulate way. Afterwards he nodded humbly, thanked me for listening and bid me good-bye.
What made this encounter with Curly so different from any other? Well, Curly was a puppet. Yes, I said puppet. He was owned by a man who obviously loved him dearly. That man was standing in front of me in the check out line at my local Christian bookstore. Much like Curly, this man was a bit unkempt and somewhat out of place. His red hair was thin and straggly. His stubbed beard dotted a face that was as worn and weathered as the old jacket he was wearing.
His disheveled appearance and his unbridled enthusiasm mesmerized me. I stood there and quietly watched and listened as he tucked Curly away in an old duffle bag on the floor beside him and continued his story of the love of Christ. He laid a little Spanish Bible down on the counter for the clerk to ring up, took his change from the purchase, joyfully thanked her for her service, slung the dirty old duffle bag over his shoulder and walked towards the door. I checked out right behind him and we neared the parking lot together. As we did, he talked to me about Curly as if he were a real boy. Then he asked me for directions to the next town, waved good-bye, adjusted his load and continued his journey on foot.
As he crossed the parking lot I began to realize the possibility that he may be homeless, or at least in need of a hot meal and transportation. I struggled with what to do next. I thought hard about offering him a ride. I also thought about giving him money. I didn’t even know his name much less where he was from or where he was going. So I made my choice, I drove away without doing a thing. I watched him in my rear view mirror as far as I could see and then began to weep.
Conviction gripped my soul. I wept because I was ashamed of how my hurried life had brought me to a place of such insensitivity. Tears fell because I felt inadequately equipped to reach out to this stranger. I cried because he seemed so satisfied and my life was far from content. If this dear man lacked anything at all it didn’t show on his countenance or in the way he presented himself. He freely gave me a song, a smile and a kind word. He blessed my heart and never asked for a thing in return. So I searched my heart as I repented of my own self-centeredness. I asked forgiveness for all the excuses I have made for putting me first and others second.
As a busy Christian wife, mother of two and over achieving Church worker I was challenged by this unusual man who was shrouded in humility and yet so bold in his faith. Without a doubt, I was put to the test that day. As a result of my encounter with Curly, my priorities have changed. My heart has changed. I realize that it is the simplest things that have the most profound impact on people. Now, penciled in between each line of my daily agenda are the words, pour out the love of Christ on someone in need, give from the abundance of my resources, and most importantly, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
I will never know if this man with his puppet was an angel or just an ordinary man. What I do know is that acts of kindness do not come with a price. Jesus gave His life so that we could freely give. A soft glance into the eyes of someone standing nearby me, a gentle smile or even a word kindly spoken stir the soul and release the sweet fragrance of God.
I am forever changed by my encounter with Curly. The desire of my heart is that those who cross my path each day will sense the peace of God in me and that I will without hesitation bestow that peace on them, in Jesus name.
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