On September 29th God showed me exactly how one-dimensional I had gotten, how small my world had become. Here’s how…
That morning my son had a doctor’s appointment at 10 am. Although the appointment itself was about 20 minutes or so, the doctor was running late (as most doctor’s are these days, which btw does not bother me, if they’re late it means they’re giving people the attention and time they need and they’ll do the same for me). The appointment finished up around 11:00. Of course, when we left it was close to lunch, so my son wanted to stop somewhere. The answer was of course, no. He needed to get to school and I needed to get home for my own homework. He finally convinced me to stop so he could use the restroom. We ended up at Wendy’s and while he went to the restroom I got drinks. As I was buckling my seatbelt in the truck a man approached the window, and when I looked up it startled me (actually scared me). From his clothes and demeanor you could tell that he was most likely homeless. I rolled down the window just a bit, already annoyed at this intrusion into my already rushed morning. He looked at me and said, “Can I get something to eat?” I responded that I was sorry but I didn’t have any cash, which was true, I didn’t. He again looked at me and said, “I just want something to eat.” Same response, no cash. We went back and forth like this several times and finally I apologized for not having anything, asked his name and said I would pray for him. His immediate response was to stick his hand out to shake mine and say, “thank you so much, can I pray for you too? What is your name?” I rolled down my window a bit more to shake his hand and as our hands came into contact I was hit with a bolt of lightning. I had to buy this man some lunch. No questions, no more hesitation, just get out and get him something to eat. I was almost in tears at that point, but not quite. You see, the whole time I was saying no I was feeling annoyed and trying to get on my way, but I felt like I should help him. I just didn’t want to. The excuses were running through my head: we’re on a budget, I don’t have time, I don’t have cash, etc.
As I got out of the car Eddie started to thank me, with more gratitude than anyone has ever expressed, at least in my life, it felt like ever in the history of the world. As I asked him what he would like he simply said, “a small chili and a baked potato, they’re only $1.00.” I told him he could get anything he wanted. When we got inside the girl behind the counter looked at us with what can only be called disdain. I introduced her to Eddie and told her that he would like some lunch. She looked at me like I’d just completely lost my mind. When I asked him what he would like, he repeated his simple request, a small chili and a baked potato. When I asked if he’d like a drink I thought he was going to fall over from surprise. He stammered for a minute and asked if he could have a soda. The girl asked him, in an irritated voice, what kind he would like and he paused, finally answering a Dr. Pepper, “if that was ok.” I told him that he could get whatever he wanted. He said that was all, just a chili and baked potato. After I paid for his meal I stood there with him for a minute or two waiting for his food, he smiled at me and thanked me again. He said that he would pray for me. I told him that we were there once a month or so and I would look for him. He smiled and said thank you, then he said what hit me the most, “I usually sleep back there or across the street.” You see, I knew he was homeless. I knew that most likely he was sleeping on the street or possibly in a shelter. At his simple, almost nonchalant, statement of that fact I was floored. The reality hit me like a ton of bricks. He thanked me again, and I thanked him for allowing me to buy him lunch, then hugged him, and walked out the door.
As I walked across the parking lot the tears started. By the time I got to my truck I was sobbing. I was so ashamed of how I had originally responded, and so grateful to God for showing me. There was another blessing also. My son was in the truck during all this. When I took Eddie inside Wendy’s he stayed inside the truck and when I got back he had tears in his eyes too. All the way back to the school we talked. About helping people, about loving people, about showing everyone the love that Jesus has for them, about trusting God and listening to Him when we feel the Holy Spirit pushing us.
I know that in the past I’ve felt good when I’ve handed cash or offered to pray for a homeless person. Like I’m doing good and helping them. That Wednesday Eddie helped me. He gave me one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received. I have no doubt that he was put there by God, to teach me that valuable lesson. Take my eyes off myself, focus on Him, and on loving others as He loves me. Matthew West has a wonderful new song out called, “My Own Little World” and every time I hear it I think about Eddie and what he did for me.
Think about it the next time you see an, “Eddie” out there. It doesn’t matter what they do with what we offer, it’s not ours anyway. It’s God’s, He’s trusted us with it, and He wants us to care for others with all He has given us.