Once Upon a Time…
These true to life stories speak for themselves. Don’t let life pass you by. Live, love, and have no regrets.
It was a cold winter’s day that Sunday. The church parking lot was filling up quickly. I noticed as I got out of my car that fellow church members were whispering among themselves as they walked to the church. As I got closer, I saw a man leaning up against the wall outside the church. He was almost lying down as if he was asleep. He had on a long trench coat that was almost in shreds and a hat topped his head, pulled down so you could not see his face. He wore shoes that looked 30 years old, too small for his feet, with holes all over them, his toes stuck out.
I assumed this man was homeless and asleep, so I walked on by through the doors of the church. We all fellowshipped for a few minutes, and someone brought up the man lying outside. People snickered and gossiped but no one bothered to ask him to come in, including me. A few moments later, church began. We all waited for the preacher to take his place and to give us the Word, when suddenly the doors to the church opened. In came the homeless man walking down the aisle with his head down. People gasped and whispered and made faces. He made his way down the aisle and up onto the pulpit where he took off his hat and coat.
My heart sank. There stood our preacher. He was the “homeless man.” No one said a word.
The preacher took his Bible and laid it on the stand. “Folks, I don’t think I have to tell you what I am preaching about today.” Then he started singing the words to this song. “If I can help somebody as I pass along, if I can cheer somebody with a word or song, if I can show somebody that he’s traveling wrong, then my living shall not be in vain.”
Dad: Even the little things you can do mean a lot, a little bit of love goes such a long way. The Lord says, “Invite the poor, the lame, the halt, and the blind and those who can’t repay you, and then your Father in Heaven will repay you!”
Knowing that you’re loved gives you hope and faith for other things, too! That’s one of the wonderful things about God’s love: When we know that God loves us, we know everything is going to be okay, including His taking care of everything!
Ruth went to her mail box and there was only one letter. She picked it up and looked at it before opening, then she looked at the envelope again.
There was no stamp, no postmark, only her name and address. She read the letter:
I’m going to be in your neighborhood Saturday afternoon and I’d like to stop by for a visit.
Her hands were shaking as she placed the letter on the table. “Why would the Lord want to visit me? I’m nobody special. I don’t have anything to offer.”
With that thought, Ruth remembered her empty kitchen cabinets. “Oh my goodness, I really don’t have anything to offer. I’ll have to run down to the store and buy something for dinner.” She reached for her purse and counted out its contents. Five dollars and forty cents. “Well, I can get some bread and cold cuts, at least.”
She threw on her coat and hurried out the door. A loaf of French bread, a half-pound of sliced turkey, and a carton of milk, leaving Ruth with a grand total of twelve cents to last her until Monday. Nonetheless, she felt good as she headed home, her meager offerings tucked under her arm.
“Hey, lady, can you help us, lady?”
Ruth had been so absorbed in her dinner plans, she hadn’t even noticed two figures huddled in the alleyway. A man and a woman, both of them dressed in little more than rags.
“Look lady, I ain’t got a job, and my wife and I have been living out here on the street, and, well, now it’s getting cold and we’re getting kinda hungry and, well, if you could help us, we’d really appreciate it.”
Ruth looked at them both. They were dirty, they smelled bad and, frankly, she was certain that they could get some kind of work if they really wanted to.
“Sir, I’d like to help you, but I’m a poor woman myself. All I have is a few cold cuts and some bread, and I’m having an important guest for dinner tonight and I was planning on serving that to Him.”
“Well, okay, I understand. Thanks anyway.” The man put his arm around the woman’s shoulders, turned and headed back into the alley.
As she watched them leave, Ruth felt a familiar twinge in her heart. “Sir, wait!”
The couple stopped and turned as she ran down the alley after them. “Look, why don’t you take this food. I’ll figure out something else to serve my guest.” She handed the man her grocery bag.
“Thank you. Thank you very much!”
“Yes, thank you!” It was the man’s wife, and Ruth could see now that she was shivering.
“You know, I’ve got another coat at home. Here, why don’t you take this one.” Ruth unbuttoned her jacket and slipped it over the woman’s shoulders. Then smiling, she turned and walked back to the street, without her coat and with nothing to serve her guest.
“Thank you, lady! Thank you very much!” Ruth was chilled by the time she reached her front door, and worried too. Jesus was coming to visit and she didn’t have anything to offer Him. She fumbled through her purse for the door key. But as she did, she noticed another envelope in her mailbox.
“That’s odd. The mailman doesn’t usually come twice in one day.” She took the envelope out of the box and opened it.
It was so good to see you again. Thank you for the lovely meal. And thank you, too, for the beautiful coat.
Dad: “From him that hath, according to his ability, unto him that hath not, according to his need.”—that’s the sharing principle of love—and the loving principle of sharing!
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? Or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? Or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (Matthew 25:37-38)
His name is Bill. He has wild hair, wears a T-shirt with holes in it, jeans and no shoes. This was literally his wardrobe for his entire four years of college. He is brilliant. Kind of esoteric and very, very bright. He became a Christian while attending college.
Across the street from the campus is an elegant, very conservative church. They want to develop a ministry to the students, but are not sure how to go about it. One day Bill decides to go there. He walks in with no shoes, jeans, his T-shirt, and wild hair. The service has already started and so Bill starts down the aisle looking for a seat. The church is completely packed and he can’t find a seat.
By now people are really looking a bit uncomfortable, but no one says anything. Bill gets closer and closer and closer to the pulpit, and when he realizes there are no seats, he just squats down right on the carpet. (Although perfectly acceptable behavior at a college fellowship, trust me, this had never happened in this church before!)
By now the people are really uptight, and the tension in the air is thick. About this time, the minister realizes that from way at the back of the church, a deacon is slowly making his way toward Bill. Now the deacon is in his eighties, has silver-gray hair, and a three-piece suit. A godly man, very elegant, very dignified, very courtly.
He walks with a cane and, as he starts walking toward this boy, everyone is saying to themselves that you can’t blame him for what he’s going to do. How can you expect a man of his age and of his background to understand some college kid on the floor? It takes a long time for the man to reach the boy. The church is utterly silent except for the clicking of the man’s cane. All eyes are focused on him. You can’t even hear anyone breathing. The minister can’t even preach the sermon until the deacon does what he has to do.
And now they see this elderly man drop his cane on the floor. With great difficulty he lowers himself and sits down next to Bill and worships with him so he won’t be alone. Everyone chokes up with emotion.
When the minister gains control, he says, “What I’m about to preach, you will never remember. What you have just seen, you will never forget.”
Jesus: If you seek to be truly revolutionary, seek to become all things to all men so that you might win them to Me. This is true revolution—being what you need to be to bring people to Me. …The goal is bringing people to Me; that’s the whole purpose in life.