“Do you have big plans for the game tonight?” My quizzical look said it all, because he answered the question before I asked it. “What game?”
“The National Championship!” The tone implied the “duh.”
At a different point in life, this event might take priority.
I thought of my father, whom I knew would already be glued to the television. Trying to evoke a laugh, I sent dad the following text message:
I just heard the National College Football Championship airs tonight. I missed this because:
- All five (5) of the clients have critical primary elections in seven weeks, early voting starts in five weeks, and they needed their money raised … yesterday.
- When not working, I’m absorbed in studying end time’s prophecy and comparing it to current events.
- I don’t own a television.
- I don’t follow sports because I’m single, and therefore not in need of the talking points.
- All of the above.
As one might guess, “5” proved correct. Previously, no plans for the big game would leave me feeling lacking. But tonight my heart filled with contentment and gratitude. My job excites me and allows me to set boundaries with scheduling, compensation and workload. My insatiable appetite for the Bible, its wisdom and revelation, help me achieve balance in nearly every aspect of my life. My upper-room apartment with no television provides me a place of rest and retreat. My cup overflows.
Admittedly, “thankful” was not the word I use to describe option “4,” but in lieu of other blessings, I graciously accept my season of singleness.
Walking into the CVS in Uptown, Dallas, I see a homeless-looking African American man huddled in the corner of the building. I immediately make a right-handed fist around my car keys with the prong sticking through my middle and ring finger. I would likely break my hand if I punched someone, but the key in the face would send a message.
I dare myself to look – or not look – at the man in the corner, clearly trying to avoid the wind.
“How do you walk in them shoes?” he asks.
I continue walking, laugh and swing my hair as I reply, “Very carefully.”
Ten minutes later, as I make my way back to my car, the tattered book in his hand catches my attention. Without questioning safety or appearances, I instinctively turn back around, and ask, “Sir, is there anything I can do for you?”
“I’m just having a hard time getting food for my family and a place to sleep in this cold weather,” he says.
“What can I do for you? Do you need money so you can go inside and get what you need?”
“Money would be good,” he says. “Then I can go get us some food that will last.”
An idea comes to me.
“I’m on my way to the grocery right now,” I say. “What can I get for you?”
“Fruity Pebbles,” he replies. “My baby girl likes Fruity Pebbles.”
“Is there anything else?” I ask.
He hesitates, “And milk would be good, too. Milk to eat the cereal with.”
I asked if he preferred 2% or whole. God is into the details of our lives; it blessed me to take note of the details of his grocery list.
“Fruity Pebbles and milk. What else?”
“A loaf of bread would be nice. I’ve got peanut butter, so if I got some bread I could make peanut butter sandwiches.”
“White or wheat?”
“White’s good,” he says.
“Anything else?” I nearly plead. “Perhaps some protein?”
“No, just fruity pebbles and milk and bread.”
I’d already turned and begun walking to my car when I hear, “And jelly.”
I smile as I turn around.
“I forgot jelly,” he says. “If we could get jelly, we could make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.”
“Of course,” I reply. Why hadn’t I thought of that?
I’m barely inside my car when the tears start flowing, and I completely lost it when I hit the cereal aisle.
It nearly killed me to buy processed, non-organic food, but I reasoned that I could get more of what he needed if I bought the less expensive options. After all, just today I was wondering how in the world I would make my own meager bank account last for gas and food through the end of the month. I could have bought him a house and stocked his pantry full of food, and it still wouldn’t have been enough to satisfy what my heart wanted to do for him.
I dumped my dry cleaning out of the reusable Lululemon bag so that he’d have something sturdy to carry the groceries in. At the bottom of the bag, I included a note:
“My Friend …” I talked to him but I did not know his name.
“Thank you for seeing me tonight. You saw my shoes; I saw your Bible in your hands, and essentially saw your heart. Thank you for blessing me by giving me the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Christ. Thank you for being bold enough to give me your grocery list. When your baby girl needs more Fruity Pebbles, do not hesitate to call me.”
I signed my name, wrote down my phone number and put the note in the bag with the only cash in my wallet, $7.
I felt the need to explain to him everything in the bags: Two loaves of bread, two jellies because I wasn’t sure which flavor he’d want, more peanut butter just in case they run out, lunch meat and cheese because they need protein, bananas because they need the nutrition, a gallon of milk and two boxes of Fruity Pebbles.
He thanked me. I thanked him more for giving me the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Christ. I learned his name is Darren, his 4-year old daughter’s name is Cheyenne, he is without a job right now and trying to clean cars, and when I asked what I could pray for him, he simply asked for a roof over his head.
When his arms opened to hug me, I was not ashamed to fully embrace him in return.
As I walk away he says, “His love is just shining through you right now.”
“That’s all I want,” I said.
Back in my car, I continued to sob, pleading with the Lord on behalf of Darren and Cheyenne, asking that He would provide a warm roof for them tonight, and in the nights to come, bring a job Darren’s way, and equip Darren to put food on his table for his baby girl.
At a different point in life, I would have seen the big game, but I would have missed the opportunity to see Darren.
To my disappointment, Dad responded to my text message with: “Do not bother me while the game is on!”
OK, Dad – Just know I got to play offense for Heaven tonight.