I walked into the fast food restaurant at around nine in the morning and ordered my usual dose of healthy breakfast food—a bacon croissant and an order of greasy hash-browns. When the cashier asked if I wanted coffee or orange juice, I somehow felt better about my meal when I asked for orange juice.
After paying for my meal, I walked away from the counter and plunked down in the first available booth to wait for my food. I looked out the window, and noticed the streets were bustling with city life this cold autumn morning. Cars slammed one after the other through a large, muddy puddle left over from a rainstorm two days ago. The sun blazed just above the mountains in the light blue sky, daring the city inhabitants to come outside without a jacket.
My peaceful observation was interrupted abruptly by a loud voice.
“My name is Berta!” a woman boomed with a slight slur, pointing her finger up in the air as she came through the front door of the restaurant. Her slate blue eyes peered out from her dirty face and her hair was badly matted. She looked as though she was wearing a huge pile of soiled laundry. Her jeans had two huge black spots over both knees and her shoes were untied.
Seemingly content with her loud introduction, she meandered slowly across the front of the restaurant toward the coffee machine, mumbling all way. Once there, she pulled a small, plastic cup out of her coat pocket and began to pour hot coffee into it. The young man who brought me my food pretended not to notice that Berta was helping herself to coffee—on the house.
About a minute later, the front door of the restaurant swung open again and in walked a young lady who looked as though she had just stepped off a motorcycle—her hair was wispy and she wore blue jeans and dark leather boots. She peered intently around the restaurant, her eyes searching for someone or something. I dabbed my hash-browns into the pile of ketchup on my tray and pretended to mind my own business.
“Oh, there you are!” The young lady exclaimed and then smiled like she had spotted an old friend. I looked around, trying to figure out who she was talking to. To my amazement, she ran right up to Berta who was now slowly stirring cream into her coffee.
“I was hoping you’d be here today!” she said with genuine excitement. “I brought something for you that I know you are just going to love!” As soon as Berta put down her coffee, the young woman held out a pair of folded up jeans.
“For me?” Berta asked in bewilderment. Her blackened fingers picked nervously at the pockets of her worn winter jacket.
“Yes, for you!” the young woman said as she handed Berta the jeans. “I no longer wear them, and they are in perfect shape, so I thought I would give them to you. I’m sure they’ll fit you!”
Berta seemed shocked at her new gift at first, but then once it sank in, a huge open-mouthed smile crept across her face—showing off the five teeth she had left in her mouth. Slowly, she took the jeans and carefully unfolded them as though she were opening a present on Christmas day.
“They’re perfect for me!” she said joyfully, as she held them to her waist. Then quickly, Berta pulled them up tight up against her chest as though she thought someone was going to take them. The young lady patted her gently on the shoulder and said, “I knew you would like them!”
I put down my breakfast croissant because I could no longer see it through my tears. The kindness of the gift-giver and the tender spirit in which her gift was given was more than my heart could bear. My vision was blurry as I put on my coat to leave, but it was clear what I had just witnessed:
This young lady, whether she knew it or not, had just given out jeans for Jesus!
“Then the good people will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you without clothes and give you something to wear?’ And the King answered, “I tell you the truth. Anything you did for even the least of my people here, you did for me.” Matthew 25:38-40 (NCV paraphrased)
Hope A. Horner, 2004