Pastor’s Devotional for November 24, 2021
Recently one of our members, Jimmie Franklin, wrote a beautiful story about an experience he had earlier in the day. I share the story, with his permission. For me, the story is a wonderful reminder of the importance of our common humanity and the importance of doing what we can to help one another. It is not a stretch to say it is also a thanksgiving story. A grateful heart finds ways to give. I encourage you to read the story and reflect upon its meaning as we approach our Thanksgiving celebrations. I know you will be blessed by it. Jimmie titled the story,
“BEYOND NARROW INDIVIDUALISM AND SELFISHNESS.”
SOME THINGS DO TEAR AT THE HEART AND BRING SADNESS, IF NOT OUTRIGHT GRIEF! A FEW MINUTES AGO, I WAS ABOUT TO TURN RIGHT ONTO PARK RUN TO COME HOME FROM THE ALBERTSON’S PARKING AREA–JUST ACROSS FROM THE CVS PHARMACY. I THEN NOTICED THIS HAND-WRITTEN SIGN ON SOME KIND OF BAG NEAR THE CORNER OF THE ENTRY STREET TO PARK RUN. A MAN STOOD NEARBY HOLDING ANOTHER SIGN THAT ASKED FOR HELP. I STUDIED HIM CAREFULLY FOR A FEW SECONDS AS HE STOOD IN THE MORNING CHILL–AND HE SAW ME–BUT HE DID NOT RUSH TOWARD THE CAR FOR A HANDOUT. I THEN TURNED SLOWLY ON TO PARK RUN, PULLED NEAR THE CURB, AND PUT ON MY CAR BLINKERS. I ROLLED DOWN MY WINDOW ON THE PASSENGER SIDE OF THE CAR; AND NOW I COULD SEE CLEARLY THE MAN’S INNOCENT SMILE AND THE ALMOST PASSIVE BEHAVIOR OF THE HIS SOMEWHAT WEATHER-BEATEN FACE. YET THERE WAS THAT SMILE, THAT NON-THREATENING DEMEANOR THAT SAID “I’M GLAD YOU STOPPED, I DO NEED HELP!” AS HE MOVED SLOWLY TOWARD THE CAR, BOTH HANDS STILL FIRMLY ON HIS REQUEST FOR DONATION SIGN, I UNHOOKED MY SEAT BELT AND LEANED TOWARD THE STREET TO REMOVE MONEY FROM MY WALLET.
THE MAN SPOKE POLITELY WITH AN ALMOST GENTEEL BEHAVIOR! I THEN HANDED HIM TWO OF THE THREE DOLLARS I HAD IN MY WALLET, CHANGE FROM MY MCDONALD’S PURCHASE. I SAID TO THIS MAN—THIS PERSON I DID NOT KNOW WITH THIS ALMOST “GENTEEL” BEHAVIOR: “I REALLY HOPE YOU WILL HAVE A GOOD DAY. KEEP FAITH.” HE THEN LEANED SLOWLY WITH A FOREARM ON MY CAR AND REMARKED, “SIR, THAT’S ALL I GOT.” I STRUGGLED TO SPEAK–STRUGGLED VERY HARD! I DID REGAIN MY COMPOSURE, RAISED MY BOWED HEAD, AND NOTICED THAT HE WAS CRYING. I DO NOT KNOW A GREAT DEAL ABOUT THE LANGUAGE OR THE HABITS OF PEOPLE ON THE STREET. HOWEVER, AFTER EIGHTY-TWO YEARS AND MUCH TRAVEL, I DO HAVE SOME FEEL FOR LOOKS, BODY VIBRATIONS, AND JUST THAT HUMAN EMOTION FOR UNDERSTANDING WHEN A PERSON IS OBVIOUSLY “DOWN ON THEIR LUCK”–AND WHEN THEY ARE, TO USE THAT CLICHE’ , “REAL.” IT MADE LITTLE DIFFERENCE “WHO THIS MAN MAY HAVE ONCE BEEN!” HE WAS ON THE STREET, TODAY, THIS DAY, BEGGING, HOPING THAT I–ONE OF GOD’S CHILDREN–WOULD COME ALONG, WOULD STOP. I DID! BEFORE LEAVING HIM, HE BACKED SLOWLY AWAY FROM MY CAR, STOOD RESPECTFULLY, AND TURNED COMPLETELY TOWARD ME AS IF HE WANTED ME TO REMEMBER HIS FACE OF “THANKS!” AS HE EASED FURTHER TOWARD THE SIDEWALK THERE ON PARK RUN, I SAID: “YOU KNOW, WE HAVE NEVER MET, BUT I LOVE YOU.” HE THEN TOOK A STEP FORWARD TOWARD MY VEHICLE, AND WITH QUIET PASSION AND EYES AGAIN FIXED ON MINE, SLOWLY HE SAID: “I WILL KEEP FAITH, AND I LOVE YOU TOO!”