I sat with two friends, in the picture
window of a quaint restaurant just
off the corner of the town-square.
The food and the company were
both especially good that day.
As we talked, my attention was
drawn outside, across the street.
There, walking into town, was a man
who appeared to be carrying all
his worldly goods on his back.
He was carrying a well-worn sign
that read, "I will work for food".
My heart sank.
I brought him to the attention of my
friends and noticed that others around
us had stopped eating to focus on him.
Heads moved in a mixture
of sadness and disbelief.
We continued with our meal, but
his image lingered in my mind.
We finished our meal and
went our separate ways.
I had errands to do and quickly
set out to accomplish them.
I glanced toward the town square, looking
somewhat halfheartedly for the strange visitor.
I was fearful, knowing that seeing
him again would call some response.
I drove through town
and saw nothing of him.
I made some purchases at a
store and got back in my car.
Deep within me, the Spirit of God
kept speaking to me: "Don't go back
to the office until you've at least
driven once more around the square."
Then with some hesitancy,
I headed back into town.
As I turned the square's
third corner, I saw him.
He was standing on the steps of
the church, going through his sack.
I stopped and looked; feeling
both compelled to speak to
him, yet wanting to drive on.
The empty parking space on the
corner seemed to be a sign
from God: an invitation to park.
I pulled in, got out, and approached
the town's newest visitor.
"Looking for the pastor?" I asked.
"Not really," he replied, "just resting."
"Have you eaten today?"
"Oh, I ate something early this morning."
"Would you like to have lunch with me?"
"Do you have some work I could do for you?"
"No work," I replied. "I commute
here to work from the city, but I
would like to take you to lunch."
"Sure," he replied with a smile.
As he began to gather his things,
I asked some surface questions.
"Where you headed?"
"Where you from?"
"Oh, all over; mostly Florida."
"How long you been walking?"
"Fourteen years." came the reply.
I knew I had met someone unusual.
We sat across from each other in
the same restaurant I had left earlier.
His face was weathered
slightly beyond his 38 years.
His eyes were dark, yet clear,
and he spoke with an eloquence
and articulation that was startling.
He removed his jacket to reveal
a bright red T-shirt that said,
"Jesus is The Never Ending Story".
It was then that Daniel's
Story began to unfold.
He had seen rough times early in life.
He'd made some wrong choices
and reaped the consequences.
Fourteen years earlier, while
backpacking across the country, he
had stopped on the beach in Daytona.
He tried to hire on with some men
who were putting up a large tent and
some equipment... a concert, he thought.
He was hired, but the tent would not
house a concert, but revival services, and
in those services he saw life more clearly.
He gave his life over to God.
"Nothing's been the same since," he said.
"I felt the Lord telling me to keep
walking, and so I did..., some 14 years now."
"Ever think of stopping?", I asked.
"Oh, once in a while, when it
seems to get the best of me.
But God has given me this calling.
I give out Bibles.
That's what's in my sack.
I work to buy food and Bibles, and I
give them out when His Spirit leads."
I sat amazed.
My homeless friend
was not homeless.
He was on a mission and
lived this way by choice.
The question burned inside for a moment
and then I asked: "What's it like?"
"To walk into a town carrying all your
things on your back and to show your sign?"
"Oh, it was humiliating at first.
People would stare and make comments.
Once someone tossed a piece of half
eaten bread and made a gesture that
certainly didn't make me feel very welcome.
But then it became humbling to realize that
God was using me to touch lives and change
people's concepts of other folks like me."
My concept was changing, too.
We finished our dessert
and gathered his things.
Just outside the door, he paused.
He turned to me and said...,
"Come Ye blessed of my Father and
inherit the kingdom I've prepared for you.
For when I was hungry you gave me food,
when I was thirsty you gave me drink,
a stranger and you took me in."
I felt as if we were on holy ground.
"Could you use another Bible?" I asked.
He told me of a favorite translation of
his that traveled well and was not too heavy.
"I've read through it 14 times," he said.
We stopped by my Church where I was
able to find my new friend a Bible,
and he seemed very grateful.
"Where are you headed from here?" I asked.
"Well, I found this little map on the
back of this amusement park coupon."
"Are you hoping to hire on there for a while?"
"No, I just figure I should go there.
I figure someone under that star right there
needs a Bible, so that's where I'm going next."
He smiled, and the warmth of his spirit
radiated the sincerity of his mission.
I drove him back to the town-square
where we'd met two hours earlier,
and as we drove, it started raining.
We parked and unloaded his things.
"Would you sign my autograph
book?" he asked.
"I like to keep messages
from folks I meet."
I wrote in his little book
that his commitment to his
calling had touched my life.
I encouraged him to stay
strong and I left him with a
verse of scripture from Jeremiah...,
"I know the plans I have for you,
declared the Lord, plans to prosper
you and not to harm you; Plans to
give you a future and a hope."
"Thanks, man," he said.
"I know we just met and we're really
just strangers, but I love you."
"I know," I said, "I love you, too.
The Lord is good!"
"Yes, He is. How long has it been
since someone hugged you?" I asked.
"A long time," he replied.
And so on the busy street corner in the
drizzling rain, my new friend and I embraced,
and I felt deep inside that I had been changed.
He put his things on his back, smiled his winning
smile and said, "See you in the New Jerusalem."
"I'll be there!" was my reply.
He began his journey again.
He headed away with his sign dangling
from his bedroll and pack of Bibles.
He stopped, turned and said,
"When you see something that makes
you think of me, will you pray for me?"
"You bet," I shouted back, "God bless!"
"God bless!" he said back, and
that was the last I saw of him.
Late that evening as I left my
office, the wind blew strong.
The cold front had settled
hard upon the town.
I bundled up and hurried to my car.
As I sat back and reached for
the gear shift, I saw them...
A pair of well-worn brown work gloves
laid over the length of the handle.
I picked them up and thought of my
friend and wondered if his hands would
stay warm that night without them.
Then I remembered his words:
"If you see something that makes you
think of me, will you pray for me?"
His gloves remain on my desk
in my office still to this day.
They help me to see the world and its people
in a new way, and they help me remember
those two hours with my unique friend
and to pray for his ministry.
"See you in the New Jerusalem," he said.
"Yes, Daniel, I know I will."