At 7a.m. I dropped off Hannah and Abbey at the high school. The sun had just made it's way over the mountains as I turned east and started home. I reached for the visor to shield my eyes from it's brilliance while my mind was already racing through the days schedule. I turned my car onto the Taneycomo bridge following one of those bouncing, low-riding cars. In the rear window was a bumper sticker that read, No low-life, no life. I contemplated it's meaning and decided this must be someone from out-of-town.
So, I didn't see the young man until the traffic stopped at the red light. He was standing on the sidewalk wearing a brown t-shirt and khaki shorts. He wore glasses and his hair was cut short. I could not make out the handwritten message on the cardboard sign that he held in this hand. He quickly turned away, embarrassed by his predicament. He kept looking in the other direction, away from me, but there were no cars coming from that direction.
"Let me see your sign," I whispered. A moment later he turned and I read Homeless & Hungry. I rolled down the window on the passenger side and he walked over to my car.
"We've been walking all night and she's sleeping." he said. I must have looked confused because he repeated it. "We've been walking all night and we're tired. She's sleeping over there," And he pointed in the direction of the light pole. Then I saw her. She was curled up on the concrete wrapped in whatever extra clothing they had.
"What do I have? How can I help them?" I thought as I scanned the inside of my car. There was a bowl of half-eaten oatmeal, toast crust, and a bag of grapes; the remains of Hannah's breakfast. I quickly reached inside my purse for my wallet. I had $7. I took the $5 and handed it to him along with the bag of grapes. "God bless you." I said through the window. The light was green and I had to move on. "God bless you." he said in return.
As I pulled away, my heart was broken as I realized this young couple had spent the night on a dirty highway and I wondered. "How do you get to this place.....tired, hungry, with no place to sleep? What was this young man's story?" He seemed educated. He looked healthy. He could have been one of my son's friends. But, there he stood with a cardboard sign asking for help. No money, no car, no home, no job, no food, no bed, and no friends or family.
Tears rolled down my cheeks and I did all that I know to do. I prayed for that young man and his companion. I prayed that God would reach into his heart and make himself real to him. I prayed that God would rescue him from this lifestyle and provide for his needs. I prayed that he might come to know how great God's love is for him, a love expressed perfectly in the life, death, and resurrection of his son, Jesus Christ. Does this young man know that God gave his son to die for sinners like us? Yes, we are all sinners. And without God, we are tired and hungry and poor and needy, waiting for someone to rescue us. God made a way for us to be saved; that way is through his son, Jesus Christ who died on a cross to pay the penalty for our sins. We can be forgiven and we can have eternal life if we believe in Jesus as our Savior.
By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent his only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 1John 4:9
It was a brief encounter, just a few seconds. "God bless you." A quick greeting offered in haste, but powerful words when spoken in faith and part of a prayer that reaches the ears of God whose love is perfect and can reach the heart of that young man.