"I want you to know something.
This morning, I asked God for an opportunity to love someone, and He sent me to you."
And this boy begins to weep.
He asks me, "Do you ask God that every morning?"
"No," I reply. "But, I did today."
He wipes his hand across his tear-streaked face.
"That's funny," he says. "Because just before you came here I was thinking, I just want someone to love me."
We sit quietly in each other's presence for a moment, K and I. He finishes his lunch and thanks me. I long to wrap this boy in my arms but, before I get the chance, I see another young man approach us. He looks at us quizzically. He speaks to K; says hello to him, and I am surprised when he responds with recognition. I ask how they know each other, and they both respond with an awkward smile. I am not sure what I expect their answer to be but, I am not at all prepared for what K says.
"We met here," he indicates with his hands that he literally means right here; "just yesterday."
I know he sees my confusion, because he continues to disclose,
"He was walking by on his way to work, and I asked him to take a picture of me with my phone; so that I could have a reminder of myself on the worst day of my life......."
I could weep when he tells me this. I want to weep, but somehow, I keep myself together. And, I don't know why, but I tell K that he should give this guy his phone again.........so that he could take a picture of the two of us together. Before K can even hand his phone over, this other boy agrees heartily that this is a good idea. He reminds K that while yesterday he sat here alone, today, he sits here with a friend. And I am deeply humbled, because, yes, I am his friend.
He takes our picture and hands the phone back to K. This other boy heads off to work, and as K looks at the picture of us his phone, I convey to him,
"Now you have a reminder of the day you asked to be loved, and God sent me."
He ponders my words as he he tucks his phone back into his pocket. I see that his eyes are clearer, and somehow, he seems less desolate. For these past 30 minutes or so, K has been able to escape his isolation. With the two of us, sitting here in this brick hideaway, it has almost felt like a refuge. But, for obvious reasons, I am unable to remain here indefinitely. Neither can he.
I continue to inquire about his situation. I discover that while he does have a job, he does not have a place to live, and so I suggest the possibility of checking into a transitional homeless shelter for men. But, he is unwilling. I ask him why, and he shrugs, expressing he is too proud for that. Everything within me wants to gather him up, along with his few belongings, and deposit him on the doorstep of such a place, but, I know this is unreasonable. He thinks he may be able to find a couch to crash on for a while, and though this feels futile to me, the decision is not mine to make. I commit to him once again, that myself and my husband will assuredly walk with him and support him, if he would like us to. He nods at me, and I know part of him still wonders why I would bother.
The time has passed far to quickly, and I am late picking up my daughter from an appointment. But, I am loathe to leave him. This boy now carries a piece of my heart. How do I abandon him here? How do I go on with my day, with my life, loving this boy and not knowing what his future will hold? I cannot. Somehow, he belongs to me now.
Regrettably, I tell him that I need to go, but I ask him if we can exchange phone numbers. He informs me that he doesn't have a phone number, or even data, for that matter. He explains this is the reason why he is in this hole in the wall in the first place; he gets free wifi here. But, he gives me his contact information and I give him mine, so that we can text each other.
I really need to leave, but I am having a hard time pulling myself away. I ask if I can hug him. He says yes, and I pull him into an embrace. His sweat mixed with the lingering smell of alcohol on an unwashed body, is like a fragrance to me and I think, 'this is what love smells like.' I remind him of his worth; and of his value, and that he is loved. And then I tell him,
"I love you, K."
And, I think he believes me.
You should know.... this is not an ordinary occurrence for me. I don't generally hand out my number to strangers. For goodness sake, I don't normally eat in a dingy hole in the wall with meth users, but this whole encounter is beyond the ordinary for me. The thing is..... I want it to be. I want this to be ordinary. Not in the sense that it would be ordinary for me to see people strung out, alone and desperate; I would never want that to be ordinary, but that it would be ordinary for me to see them; to really see them, the way that Jesus sees them. I want it to be an ordinary occurrence for me to willingly open my heart and allow Jesus to literally fill me with His love for people. I want it to be an ordinary occurrence for me, to be the hands and feet of Jesus extended in a tangible way. I want it to be an ordinary occurrence for me to actually live out the Word of God. I mean, isn't that what we're supposed to do? To read the Words He spoke to us, and then go out and do them?
O friends! What if you ask Jesus for an opportunity to love someone today? What if you transparently lay your heart before Him, and openly invite Him to start something new and vibrant in your heart? What if He answers? Will you respond?
“When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:
I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me.’
“Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’
I send K a text.
Me: Hey K! This is Melinda!
K: Roger that
Me: So, how would you feel about sending me that pic of us?
Me: This is a great pic! Now you can remember the day when you asked to be loved, and God sent me.
K: It's either fate or coincidence. Personally, I don't much believe in coincidence
Me: Nor do I
Click here for part 3