On Friday, I was running and noticed a gentleman crossing the road. It see,ed a bit odd for two reasons. First, he was weaving in and out of cars rather than crossing at an intersection which was only twenty yards away. And, he was walking straight toward me.
He made his way to the sidewalk on my side of the street and, just as I expected, he approached and stopped me. I paused the podcast I’d been listening to, wrestled the ear plugs out of my ears, and gave him my attention.
He was looking for a homeless shelter. He was new to town, looking for work and had spent several nights out in the cold.
“I was promised some work but not only can I not find the man, I can’t even find thirty-five cents!”
I thought he was going ask me for money but he did not. “I just need to find a warm place to stay at night and I need work. I can do almost anything and am willing to. I just gave my heart to the Lord and I have to trust Him to provide, like the Bible says.”
As he continued, I realized this man was serious and definitely NOT looking for a handout.
I brainstormed with him for a few moments and suggested he walk around the corner to the local Christian bookstore. I figured they would either know specific people at the men’s shelter they could connect him with, or they’d know who to contact.
A wide smile creased his face and he set off in the direction I’d pointed with a new pep in his step.
I’d given him hope.
I watched from a distance as he boldly stepped inside the store to ask for help in locating a shelter, inspired by his resolve to get back on his feet again and make a go of life.
And, as he disappeared behind the glass storefront, I had no doubt whatsoever that he would indeed overcome his current circumstance.
I continued my run to the grocery store, the once intriguing podcast no longer holding my interest. As I walked the isles of the store, I was tempted to buy food for this man. I wondered what he would enjoy eating that didn’t have to be cooked.
I reached for a couple of things but then put them back. This stranger who walked up to me on the street was not looking for a handout. Though down on his luck, he was also self-sufficient, intelligent and resourceful. He would make it through.
As I ran home with grocery bags in hand, I marveled at the inner strength of this total stranger. I also lamented that I’m not more like him. I prayed that I would become more like him.
I also prayed that YOU would be more like him. A chance encounter on a cold sunny morning with a total stranger who shouted by his actions, “I’m not looking for a handout” compels me to a new commit. What about you?
Have you had a chance encounter that changed your life? Gave you hope? Or perhaps a swift kick in the pants? Share it here!