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HomeStorytime!Bible StudiesPoems for the HungryAbout the Author
God's Mysterious Ways
 
It was an unusually cold day for the month of May. Spring had arrived 
and everything was alive with color. But a cold front from the North 
had brought winter's chill back to Indiana. I sat, with two friends, in 
the picture window of a quaint restaurant just off the corner of the 
town square. The food and the company were both especially good that 
day. As we talked, my attention was drawn outside, across the street. 
There, walking into town, was a man who appeared to be carrying all his 
worldly goods on his back. He was carrying, a well-worn sign that 
read, "I will work for food." My heart sank. I brought him to the 
attention of my friends and noticed that others around us had stopped 
eating to focus on him. Heads moved in a mixture of sadness and 
disbelief. We continued with our meal, but his image lingered in my 
mind. We finished our meal and went our separate ways. I had errands to 
do and quickly set out to accomplish them. I glanced toward the town 
square, looking somewhat halfheartedly for the strange visitor. I was 
fearful, knowing that seeing him again would call some response. I 
drove through town and saw nothing of him. I made some purchases at as 
store and got back in my car. Deep within me, the Spirit of God kept 
speaking to me: "Don't go back to the office until you've at least 
driven once more around the square." And so, with some hesitancy, I 
headed back into town. As I turned the square's third corner. I saw 
him. He was standing on the steps of the storefront church, going 
through his sack. I stopped and looked, feeling both compelled to speak 
to him, yet wanting to drive on. The empty parking space on the corner 
seemed to be a sign from God: an invitation to park. I pulled in, got 
out and approached the town's newest visitor. "Looking for the 
pastor?" I asked. "Not really," he replied, "just resting." "Have you 
eaten today?" I asked. He replies, "Oh, I ate something early this 
morning." I ask, "Would you like to have lunch with me?" "Do you have 
some work I could do for you?" he asks. 
"No work," I replied. "I commute here to work from the 
city, but I would like to take you to lunch." "Sure," he replied with 
a smile. As he began to gather his things. I asked some surface 
questions.  "Where you headed?" "St. Louis," he replies. "Where you 
from?" I ask. "Oh, all over; mostly Florida," he answers. "How long 
you been walking?" I ask curiously. "Fourteen years," came the reply. 
I knew I had met someone unusual. We sat across from each other in the 
same restaurant I had left earlier. His face was weathered slightly 
beyond his 38 years. His eyes were dark, yet clear, and he spoke with 
an eloquence and articulation that was startling. He removed his 
jacket to reveal a bright red T-shirt that said, "Jesus is The Never 
Ending Story." Then Daniel's story began to unfold. He had seen rough 
times early in life. He'd made some wrong choices and reaped the 
consequences. Fourteen years earlier, while backpacking across the 
country, he had stopped on the beach in Daytona. 
He tried to hire on with some men who were putting up 
a large tent and some equipment. A concert, he thought. He was hired, 
but the tent would not house a concert but revival services, and in 
those services he saw life more clearly. He gave his life over to God. 
"Nothing's been the same since," he said, "I felt the Lord telling me 
to keep walking, and so I did, some 14 years now." "Ever think of 
stopping?" I asked. "Oh, once in a while, when it seems to get the 
best of me. But God has given me this calling. I give out Bibles. 
That's what's in my sack. I work to buy food and Bibles, and I give 
them out when His Spirit leads." I sat amazed. My homeless friend was 
not homeless. He was on a mission and lived this way by choice. The 
question burned inside for a moment and then I asked: 
"What's it like?" "What?" he responded. 
"To walk into a town carrying all your things on your back and to show 
your sign?" I continued. "Oh, it was humiliating at first. People would 
stare and make comments. Once someone tossed a piece of half-eaten 
bread and made a gesture that certainly didn't make me feel welcome. 
But then it became humbling to realize that God was using me to touch 
lives and change people's concepts of other folks like me." My concept 
was changing, too. We finished our dessert and gathered his things. 
Just outside the door, he paused. He turned to me and said, "Come Ye 
blessed of my Father and inherit the kingdom I've prepared for you. For 
when I was hungry you gave me food, when I was thirsty you gave me 
drink, a stranger and you took me in." I felt as if we were on holy ground. 
"Could you use another Bible?" I asked. He said he preferred a certain 
translation. It traveled well and was not too heavy. It was also his 
personal favorite. "I've read through it 14 times," he said. "I'm not 
sure we've got one of those, but let's stop by our church and see." I 
was able to find my new friend a Bible that would do well, and he 
seemed very grateful. "Where you headed from here?" I asked. "Well, I 
found this little map on the back of this amusement park coupon." he 
answered. "Are you hoping to hire on there for awhile?" I asked. "No, I 
just figure I should go there. I figure someone under that star right 
there needs a Bible, so that's where I'm going next." He smiled, and 
the warmth of his spirit radiated the sincerity of his mission. I drove 
him back to the town-square where we'd met two hours earlier, and as we 
drove, it started raining. We parked and unloaded his things. "Would 
you sign my autograph book?" he asked. "I like to keep messages from 
folks I meet." I wrote in his little book that his commitment to his 
calling had touched my life. I encouraged him to stay strong. And I 
left him with a verse of scripture from Jeremiah, 
"I know the plans I have for you," declared the Lord, 
"plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a future 
and a hope." "Thank you," he said. "I know we just 
met and we're really just strangers, but I love you." "I know," I 
said, "I love you, too." "The Lord is good." he replied. "Yes, He is. 
How long has it been since someone hugged you?" I asked. "A long 
time," he replied. And so on the busy street corner in the drizzling 
rain, my new friend and I embraced, and I felt deep inside that I had 
been changed. He put his things on his back, smiled his winning smile 
and said, "See you in the New Jerusalem." "I'll be there!" was my 
reply. He began his journey again. He headed away with his sign 
dangling from his bed roll and pack of Bibles. He stopped, turned and 
said, "When you see something that makes you think of me, will you pray 
for me?" "You bet," I shouted back, "God bless." "God bless." And 
that was the last I saw of him. Late that evening as I left my office, 
the wind blew strong. The cold front had settled hard upon the town. I 
bundled up and hurried to my car. As I sat back and reached for the 
emergency brake, I saw them... 
a pair of well-worn brown work gloves neatly laid over the length of the handle. 
I picked them up and thought of my friend and 
wondered if his hands would stay warm that night without them. I 
remembered his words: "If you see something that makes you think of me, 
will you pray for me?" Today his gloves lie on my desk in my office. 
They help me to see the world and its people in a new way, and they 
help me remember those two hours with my unique friend and to pray for 
his ministry. "See you in the New Jerusalem," he said. Yes, Daniel, 
I know I will...

 


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