Tuesday, August 21, 2007

God Provides

It was around 4 PM that I first started thinking about going out for dinner. Ava and Nate were gone to the grandparents. Cody would not be home until later in the evening. I felt a little embarrassed about going out to eat with only Lucas as company. I have never enjoyed eating alone. But, there wasn't really any food in the house. Plus, I really wanted to eat at a restaurant. I did call one friend, but she wasn't home. I thought about asking my elderly neighbor to come with me, but for some reason I did not. Finally I figured I would just go eat alone...no biggie. I thought also for a long time about where to go. Black-eyed Pea came to mind immediately. I tried and tried to think of somewhere else, but I couldn't. It was stuck in my mind. So I fed Lucas his baby food, then packed him into the car. As we were walking into the building, I saw a small elderly black man on crutches standing against the wall in the shade. We both said "hi" and made a few remarks about the heat. After I had passed, I stopped and turned back. Somehow, I knew that the man was homeless. I am not sure how I knew it, and I don't know why I turned back to him. There was a series of thoughts in my mind that happened so quickly that I can't even remember them. I asked him if he was waiting for someone. He told me he needed help. He needed bus money. I asked him if he was hungry, and he replied that he was. I asked him to come inside and eat with me. He said no at first, that he only needed bus money, but after I asked again he agreed. As we sat down to eat I started by asking him about the bus money he needed. He told me the fare was $2.50. I assured him that I would provide it after the meal. So there we sat, on opposite sides of the booth, with Lucas in his car seat on an overturned high chair between us. A minute went by before I realized I had never introduced myself. We exchanged names, and I introduced Lucas. I sure was thankful for Lucas because, as most everyone knows, babies make excellent conversation starters. They are also good for distraction when conversation wanes. However, the conversation stayed fairly lively as the man and I shared a little bit about who we were and what we did during the days. It was difficult for me to understand him sometimes because his voice was gravely. I think he said he lived at a campground in Irving. He needed the bus fare to get back to the campground. I asked how he had come to be in this part of town, but I did not understand his answer. A waitress came by and acted like she knew him. My guess is he must hang around this restaurant some. I don't know if he really needed to go somewhere on the bus, but it didn't make any difference to me. He said he was often very hungry, cold in the winter, and hot in the summer. Several times he quoted scripture to me. He asked me if I knew the two things God said was most important. I answered, "Love God, and love your neighbor." He seemed to like that I knew the answer. He was very polite, almost to a point of making me feel uncomfortably superior, if that makes any sense. He sure liked Lucas. He complimented him often and enjoyed watching him babble, grab his feet, and munch on cheerios. He ate only half of his meal, carefully wrapping the rest in paper and placing it in his backpack. I was still finishing my food when he said he had better be going. I gave him some cash and wished him well. He thanked me heartily for dinner.
I've been reflecting on this event since then. It is the first time I have ever invited a stranger standing by a restaurant to be my dinner guest. It felt like the absolute right thing to do. I knew that I couldn't solve all of this man's many problems. But, I knew that I could solve the most current two on his list: a meal and a bus ticket. Some might think that I titled this post "God provides" because the man had some needs met. That may be true, but I was thinking of myself when I wrote the title. After all, I was the one in need of company for dinner.

12 comments:

Elaine said...

what a great reminder to slow down and look at what a difference you can make. God is good!

carolyn said...

It was absolutely the right thing to do. I love it! Later, I'll tell you about the lady I met at the laundry mat.

Phillip said...

Brandy urged me to read your blog today and I am glad I did. I come across homeless people in downtown Nashville frequently...nearly everyday. Some days I give them money; some days I don't. When I help them out, I always do so because I feel an obligation to do it. The words of Matthew 25:35-36 almost guilt me into helping. Thank you for reminding me that it is not just about their needs; that God gives us those admonitions for our own good as well. As the old adage goes, it is better to give than to receive.

Rachel said...

God provided for you both and that's the beauty of it! Listening to and acting on those urges (to do something like that) takes courage - thanks for sharing your experience!

Stephanie said...

Wow! What a great story! It is amazing how God provides. You are my hero!

Dara said...

Amazing! Gives me chills! I love to hear about encounters you know are God sent. I agree with Rachel, that did take a lot of courage. I am not sure I would have had the courage being there alone with just a baby. Amazing what God provides when your heart is open to it!!! Thanks for sharing!

Lindsay said...

Amen! Everyone pretty much stated what I was thinking. You remind me of Mother Theresa. :) I pray my heart will be as open as yours. What a brave thing to do.

Anonymous said...

Well......I just went to your blog to catch up never thinking I possibly might read what I just did! While we were feeding Ava and Nate, you were entertaining a stranger and I know you lifted his spirit. You did not say a word about it this morning.....or did I miss it.......and I would like to have heard more about the encounter. I think I would have provided the food and bus fare money, thinking it a bit unsafe for you and Lucas. But the environment of the restaurant helped, I'm sure. Touching story. crc

Larry James said...

"on earth as it is in heaven" stuff, Becky. The kingdom of God is not complex. Very basic, actually. Very, very human and extremely transporting. This is the way of mystery. This is the way into an experience of the very heart of God. Thanks for sharing. Thanks even move for acting out of your faith and into a special space God provided for you and your new friend.

Irene said...

so precious becky! thanks for sharing this moment with us.

Brooke said...

What a great thing you did!

Quad Squad! said...

I'm so proud of you Becky! I don't think I would have had the courage to do that. I would have been too embarrassed or uncomfortable or just plain scared. Good for you! I'm glad it was a public place and God was watching over you!