The crisp morning air assaulted his ears and the back of his neck. Todd flipped up his collar to shield himself somewhat from the cool wind. The sun would warm him in just a couple of hours he reassured himself.
Todd stood on the corner of Walker Street and Sims Boulevard. The intersection wasn’t busy yet but he hoped it soon would be. Todd’s mind sorted mixed feelings as he moved about, near the stop walk sign, waiting.
It was embarrassing, no humiliating to be standing on the side of the road begging for food. How had he gotten to this place when only months before he had a home and a family? In one terrible night, it had all been ripped away. When the fire had taken everything and everyone, he just couldn’t keep going. Part of him wanted to, but he just didn’t know how.
Jeff and Kelly chattered away as they drove. Their trek to church from their downtown apartment always took them through the same part of town, near St. Anthony’s Mission. Many times there were homeless or even mentally ill people on the sidewalks and benches of the city. When they had first moved to Nashville, these sights had deeply pierced their hearts. But the day to day scenes filled with men holding signs and women talking to themselves somehow became the norm. And the norm became unseen.
Jeff pulled to a stop as the light turned red. He leaned forward to change a c.d. while continuing pleasant banter with his wife about what they might do that afternoon. Kelly’s words rolled from her lips uninterrupted as she nodded briefly at the man standing just a few feet away from their shiny Honda. The man held a weak smile along with a cardboard sign that read “Will work for food”.
The c.d. began to play as the traffic light turned to green. Jeff made his regular turn to the right as their service time neared. They had only made it a few blocks when they both began to grow quiet. “I think we are supposed to go and buy some groceries for that man at the light back there”, Kelly revealed in a soft tone. Jeff had felt a quickening in his heart as well. “That is exactly what I was thinking”, he said to his young wife.
Jeff made quick work of the turnaround to a nearby grocery store. He and Kelly were college students and had little resources. Yet they were amazed at how much food they were able to get for only eleven dollars. Kelly looked into the two bags filled with peanut butter, bread, cheese, lunchmeat, a half gallon of milk, a bottle of coke and a box of snack cakes. “God must have put everything on sale just for us” Kelly spouted, excitedly.
Todd’s eyes widened as he recognized a returning vehicle. He was sure his shame shown on his face as the car pulled near and stopped. He approached the window.
“I don’t know who you are or what you’re going through” Jeff said, “but God told us to give you this”. He stretched his arms out handing over the bags.
Todd hadn’t been sure of what he was going to say. As he grasped the bags his eyes filled with tears. He began to speak but his now flooding tears overwhelmed him. “God bless you” was all that would come out. So, he said it over and over. “God bless you too, Man” said Jeff, as he shook Todd’s hand and drove away.
It had been so long since Todd had felt God’s compassion towards him. In fact, he hadn’t allowed himself to feel much of anything since his wife and daughter had passed away.
Kelly and Jeff prayed for the man they had just met even though they didn’t know anything about him. They could tell that he had been moved by their meager gesture. It was their prayer that God would bind all his wounds and heal all of his brokenness.
“Just think” said Kelly, “We could’ve missed it”. Jeff took her hand and added to their prayer…”God, thank you for speaking to our hearts today. Please open our ears to your voice, and help us to be led by Your Holy Spirit everyday”.
And then they slipped into Sunday school.
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