Sunday, March 08, 2009

Stranger on 29th Lane

The man walked dejectedly down the road. Glancing out the front bedroom window I just happened to see him, and I watched to see what would happen next. A moment later he turned into our driveway.

Garbed in a heavy brown jacket he wore no hat, even though the February breeze was cold this afternoon. He was carrying some sort of a large grocery bag. With only a dozen houses on our road I knew every neighbor fairly well, and I was sure I hadn’t seen him before.

Presently, the doorbell rang, and I knew it was the stranger.

With a nice smile he introduced himself, holding up a gallon plastic jug. “I have a great new cleaning product,” the young man began.

Already I knew I didn’t need whatever it was. But I was kind as I interrupted, “We don’t need any, but thank you.”

After I closed the door I went to the bedroom window where I couldn’t be seen through the sheer curtains. There he was, walking down the road to my neighbor’s house. I knew it was too early for Nancy to be home from work. This stranger would find no sales at all on this street, I thought.

Getting back to my desk a sudden heaviness filled my eyes. I wept for the man. Can you believe it?

The sensible thing was to reconsider the possibilities. He could be scoping out the neighborhood, looking for likely places to rob when there’d be no one home. He could be looking for young kids to open the door and he’d invite himself in if they said that mom wasn’t home yet. Maybe this or maybe that, who knows.

He looked strong and healthy; he should have had a real job, real work with predictable pay. But with the local economy so bad right now . . .

There was nothing else for me to do but pray. I asked God to bless him in some wonderful and unexpected way. I asked for his needs to be met. I prayed that he’d go over to the local men’s shelter in town if he needed a place to stay. Then I got bold. “Lord, keep this guy from thinking of crime. Keep him from depression and anger.” Finally, I added, “I’m sorry I am not the one to help him, but I know You have someone today for him.”

Only last week our newspaper had a story about some homeless vet who was camping out behind some bushes at the town park. A big slobbery dog found his hiding place, but snuggled up to him and kept him warm overnight. The reporter concluded by telling how that big church downtown “adopted” the guy and got him into the men’s shelter.

Oh, for a happy ending. At least I know God is faithful to His Word. He does not leave any of us alone; His Holy Spirit will speak in the quietness to that stranger’s heart and hopefully the man will respond to His love. After all, there are no strangers to the Lord.

“ . . . Lord, when did we see You a stranger
and take You in, or naked and clothe You?
Or, when did we see You sick
or in prison and come to You?”
And the King will answer and say to them,
'Assuredly I say to you, inasmuch as you did it
to one of the least of these My brethren,
you did it to Me.'”
Matthew 25: 37-40 NKJV

by Elaine Hardt ©2009