The November wind sent autumn leaves swirling through the city streets. Dan turned up his collar to stave off the chill in the air. Sunlight that had struggled all day to break through the clouds began to diminish. Night time brought the bitter cold. Homeless shelters were in short supply and people were often left out in the elements to try and survive till morning. Although the world seemed cold and heartless, Dan’s heart was on fire.
Two years earlier on this very day, Dan had given his life to Jesus. Today was a day for rejoicing. The cup that had been half empty for so long now overflowed with joy and gratitude. To celebrate his two year anniversary, Dan had purchased a winter coat and was going to present it to the first homeless person he encountered. God had blessed him with so much he couldn’t help but show some kindness to someone less fortunate.
Dan had seen a homeless man in the ally near his office many times. He didn’t seem mentally ill or under the influence of anything. His clothes were old and worn, but besides that he looked normal. Dan assumed he was homeless by some kind of financial crisis. He appeared to be the type of person that, if given an opportunity and some encouragement, would turn his life around and become a contributing member of society.
The ally was dark, but Dan recognized the huddled figure camped out under an awning adjacent to the building. As he approached he rehearsed the words of encouragement he planned to deliver. The man seemed startled as Dan came near, but a warm smile appeared as their eyes met.
“Hello, my name is Dan and I have a message for you.”
“My name is Earl, and I wait in eager anticipation of that message.”
Dan was a bit surprised by Earl’s demeanor, this was an educated man. His eyes were different than Dan had expected. They weren’t said and downcast, they were full of life and hope.
Dan continued, “This may sound a little strange, but I bring you greetings in the name of Jesus Christ. He has blessed me abundantly and in response, I am giving you this coat. When you wear it I hope you will remember that no matter how bad things get, God wants to provide for you. Do you know who I am talking about?”
“Yes I do my friend. I have been a follower of Jesus all my life. I’ve even been the pastor of two of His churches. I loved being a pastor, but my gift was not in preaching, it is in intercessory prayer. I felt a calling many years ago to sell all my belongings and dedicate my time to praying for souls to have an encounter with Jesus.”
“You might be the first person I’ve met that is homeless by choice. I admire your commitment, but have you ever thought that you could be more effective if you were affiliated with a church. You would certainly be warmer.”
“My desire to do the will of the Lord far out weighs my desire to be comfortable. Thank you for the coat, and I hope that accepting your gift will bring you as much encouragement as it brings me. You see, this coat is an answer to my prayers.”
Dan felt gratitude welling up inside as Earl continued, “However, I wasn’t praying for a coat. Although we’ve never met, I have been watching you for a long time. I have prayed that God would touch your heart and that you would come to know and love Him. I remember the first time I saw you, just a little over two years ago, you looked lost. I could sense despair in your life, like an animal in a trap with no hope of escape. I prayed that God would enter your life and release you from that snare. Not long after that I noticed a change, I could sense peace. This coat represents an answer to my prayer. God has touched your soul and that encourages me more than you will ever know.”
Dan was astonished, “Two years ago?”
“You seem surprised,” said Earl.
A gust of wind sent the autumn leaves swirling down the ally, as if God’s spirit was moving through the city streets.
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