The presence of God. . .
Jackie, Jakub, and I were going over to see my Mom and Fred at Americana nursing home last night. I was going to give them some pictures of mine to hang on the wall, but I needed to stop at Hobby Lobby first to get some supplies for framing and matting the pictures. As we crossed the railroad tracks by the mall, I noticed a man coming from the direction of the Goodwill thrift store. He was a black man, poorly dressed, in his late thirties or early forties, walking, kind of struggling with several very large plastic bags. It was apparent that they were very heavy and it was an effort for him to walk with them.
My mind conjured up images of a father, maybe raising his children by himself, buying back-to-school clothes for his children and making his way home with his treasures. I went into the store to do my business. It took a little while. I couldn't find what I was looking for and had to spend some time searching before I was happy that I had what I needed. When I returned to the car and left the mall parking lot, I saw the same man with his burden of bags. He had only maybe gone a quarter of a mile in the probably fifteen or twenty minutes that I was in the store. There aren't any places that I thought it likely that he would be staying very close to the mall. My heart broke under the burden of his load. God spoke to me, I needed to give that man a ride home.
We pulled into the parking lot behind a restaurant, near to the man. I got out and asked him if he needed a ride. He acted kind of puzzled. He stammered, 'No charge. . . or anything?' 'No charge man', I replied feeling close to tears. He had set his bags down on my approach. As he went back to get them, I saw more clearly that they weren't all Goodwill bags. He had a plastic milk crate and another bag or two that you could clearly see silhouetted inside trash, junk. . . plastic bottles and cups, pieces of balled up paper and other unidentifiable refuse.
What have I got myself into? I've got my wife and grandson with me. What is this person doing carrying big plastic bags, some of them filled with trash? He took the couple of bags with the trash in them and ran fifty or a hundred feet behind a little fence in back of the restaurant and threw the bags in a dumpster. It began to dawn upon me, "What ya doing with that trash, Man?" Again his stammering, halting reply, "People throw. . .pickup. . ." I finished for him, "People throw stuff along the road that shouldn't be there. . . and you pick it up?" By now, I am silently weeping. The power and presence of God is so strong. "Yeah man, I do that too. Everywhere I go, I pick up trash and throw it away.", I softly said struggling not to just openly cry.
We put his remaining very heavy bags from Goodwill into the trunk. They pretty much fill it up. He climbs in the back seat with Jakub. The innocence of a child, Jakub begins making him feel at home, "Hi! What's your name?" His name is Dennis and he lives in the Wildwood apartments on Hively, I'm guessing a good two miles from the mall. . . five minutes in a car. I'm sure much more than an hour at Dennis's agonizingly slow pace.
We drop him off and ask if we can pray for him. He doesn't attend church, but he would like our prayers, so Jackie and I anoint him, hold his hands, and pray a simple prayer for a simple man. There with people looking on. . . the presence of God was intense. As we drove off, we worshipped and thanked God for using us to lighten the load of a man with a burden. . . a man heavily burdened with his own load, who still had room to carry the refuse, the trash, the junk that should not have been in the parking lot and on the side of the road.
It was a tremendous blessing. . . Truly I say to you, Because you did it to the least of these my brothers, you did it to me. We wept and cried at the goodness of God and at the burden of a man. . .
Thank you Lord!
Jakub, Jackie, & Dave
Saturday, January 3, 2009
My daughter Julia (Jakub's mother) newly has email and asked that I forward her emails from the past that she had not received. I'm not sending them all out to you, but I will be posting them to my blog ~ anewcreature.blogspot.com
This was originally written Sun, Aug 20, 2006