Monday, June 12, 2017

Food for Thought

When I was working, like most moms, I always tried to do one-too-many errands during lunch. Typically, the last thing on my list was food, so I could eat quickly if needed. 

Most days I inhaled lunch as an afterthought. That often left me in a drive-thru. 

Southern California has at least its share of homeless men, women and kids.  Over time, I noticed the same man sitting outside the golden arches.  Sometimes he held a sign asking for food, sometimes not.  

I started ordering a meal for him.  The two cheeseburger meal seemed pretty filling – it included fries and a soft drink.  Pretty soon he knew to expect lunch when I came through.

One day, he flagged me down as I inched through the drive-thru line.   He didn’t say anything – just handed me a note. It was printed, on paper torn from a notebook, by a hand unaccustomed to writing. And in the years since, I have kept it. This is verbatim, except for his name:

“I am really gratefull for your kindness. I'm slow at confersation or Ide of done told you, I don't drink suger or carbs, as a general rule. I feel gilty for not expressing that sooner, and chicken nuggetts or chicken saled, or fish sandwich is more healthy, if you need a yard or handyman, the knames Charles, or Charles Tyler, this is humiliating for me to give out my name in such circumstances, but I owe you that. thank you, and be not obligated to do good, but let your heart regause in well doing."
A thousand thoughts ran through my mind. Ashamed to say, they included: "wait, it's a free lunch!" and "millions of homeless in the world, and I had to find the one who is cutting carbs?"" and "drat! I think the salad will cost more!" 

I read the note again. And I welled up. 

What it must have cost Charles! How painful it must have been to write such a note. And how would he get medical care if I clogged his arteries with cheeseburgers and fries day after day? 

I bought him a salad and powerade. 

As I drove back to the office, the profound lesson was suddenly mingled with the recognition of God's sense of humor, and I could not stop laughing.  

Charles was EXACTLY the blessing I needed in my life. God surely picked him out just for me! How much I needed his presence! How much I had to learn!

I thought I had tried to see Jesus in Charles, but my failure was EPIC. I had seen only his homelessness - but not his humanity. Why didn't I talk with him - ask what he wanted? Why didn't I get out of my car and eat with him? And find out what else he needed? Instead, I sat in my comfort zone and gave on my own terms!

Humbled, I parked the car and went back to the trenches.  

“. . . whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40.

And said a quick prayer, "Thank you, Father, for blessing my life with Charles. 'My heart rejoices in well doing!' 

And sorry, Lord,, for not asking what your will was. And did not mean to load You up with carbs. Amen."