The old man didn’t like hiding in the bushes. He would rather be sitting with his friends, praying about all the people he’d seen. That had been Pete’s ministry for the last forty years since his wife died. But, he had a slight problem.
The faded green picnic table under the big oak tree, where Pete would normally be, was occupied by his two children. His son was standing, hands on hips. Elizabeth, his daughter, was sitting at the table.
“Well, he’s not here.” The son scratched his head.
“Do you think he knows we’re looking for him?” the daughter asked, looking up at the massive oak tree.
“Hard to say, sis. But, he should’ve been here by now.”
“He might be having coffee downtown.”
“Well, let’s go check. We have to register him at the home before they close today.”
“Are we doing the right thing, Dan?”
“We’ve already been through this. He’s too old to be wandering around by himself. He could get hurt, lost, or worse. Let’s go.”
As soon as the coast was clear, the white-haired man poked his smiling face out of the bushes. He ambled his way to the picnic table. His shuffling footfalls announced his coming.
When he sat down, two gray squirrels raced down the tree and took their place under the table. Three redbirds appeared on a branch above.
“Hello, my little friends. Did you think I wasn’t coming?”
Pete reached into a brown lunch sack and pulled out a ham sandwich on multi-grain bread. He also had a little baggie filled with shelled pecans.
“I saw you met my children. Did you hear they want to put me away; take me from my friends? How are all of you doing today?”
Pete blessed his lunch and dropped some nuts down by his feet.
“I’d sure miss you, Bert and Ernie.” He watched his furry companions gobble the pecans. Pete looked up at the tree.
“I haven’t forgotten about you girls.”
Pete ripped the heavy crust off his sandwich and tore it into small pieces. He dropped some crumbs in front of him.
“Come and get it.”
One at a time the redbirds fluttered down to the table, picked up a morsel of bread and flew back to their perch.
“You girls look lovely today; red is definitely your color. Enjoy, this might be our last lunch together.”
Pete took a bite of his sandwich while he read his pocket Bible.
“Listen to this, friends. May the Lord answer you when you are in trouble. May He send you help from the sanctuary. May He remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings. May He give you the desire of your heart.”
Pete closed his Bible, bowed his head and opened his heart.
I thank you Father for your Word. Do you remember the young couple I saw on my way to your table today? They seemed so polite, but their eyes were sad. I believe they are in great need of you. I lift them to your remembrance.
I also dreamed about a school bus last night, Lord. Please keep the kids safe.
I want to lift my Pastor up in prayer as well, Lord. He appears to be under some pressure. Thank you for meeting his needs.
Lord, I know my children mean well. But, I love my walks. I love eating lunch with you at this table. I love praying for the faces you bring into my path each day. I know you have answered many of my prayers here and I thank you that I have somehow made a difference in people’s lives. But, if you want me to move, I will. Amen.
Pete broke up the rest of the bread crust on the table and dropped the last of the pecans by his feet.
Lord, please take care of my friends here and allow me a visit or two. Thank you.
Pete stood from the table and caressed its worn wood. He looked up at the oak tree and wiped a tear from his eye.
“There you are, dad.”
“Hello, children. What a surprise.”
Weeks later, Pete’s son and daughter were back at the oak tree.
“I don’t know where he is, sis. But, we have to get him back to the home. Let’s go look downtown.”
As soon as they left, the nearby bushes rustled and a white-haired man peered out. Pete flashed a huge, satisfying smile.
Scripture reference: Psalms 20:1-5.
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