There sitting hunched over on the couches located at the edge of the cafe sat a man. As soon as I walked into the room I whispered to one of the women “who is that?” With sunken eyes, messy hair, tattered clothes and dirty skin he immediately caught my eye. Embarrassed to admit it my initial thoughts were immediately focused on the fact that this guy didn’t “fit in.” With profanity across his hat surely he wasn’t there for the conference. Located in the Worship Center across the hall were hundreds of men gathering to hear about Jesus and how to be Godly men. Although the men were being spiritually fed there sitting on the couch was a man starving for life’s basic necessities and to know that he too matters to Jesus. As a group of women flocked around this gentleman named Duane they realized he was homeless which was what initially brought him in because a group of women handling the parking outside had invited him in for doughnuts. After a series of “God events” because there was no way it could have been coincidence he was sitting in our cafe eating doughnuts and talking with women who were serving. Through conversation they realized Duane had a bad injury on his leg and needed immediate medical attention. It was apparent the wound on his leg had been there for a long time and it took some persuasion but 2 women offered to get this man to the hospital for medical attention. After seeing the Doctor it was apparent Duane needed serious medical attention and was transferred to a Columbus Hospital for IV antibiotics, which will save him from losing his leg and maybe even his life. At one point in conversation sitting at the hospital the women asked Duane if he believed in God and his response was “no why would I believe in God?” I have to think that for Duane it’s a little hard to believe in God when he is homeless, starving and hurting physically and emotionally and it seems like he has been forgotten. To Duane he has been beat up by the world over and over and his present circumstances seem overwhelming.
However, the conversation didn’t stop there because the women explained about how purposeful God is and how through a serious of “God events” they were there with him. Thinking about each detail of that day I am overwhelmed with amazement. Duane was merely walking through the church parking lot when a group of women were outside directing parking for a men’s conference that’s only once a year. He was hungry and they invited him in to be fed, he was thirsty and they invited him in for a drink, he was tired and they invited him in to rest on the couch. He was physically injured and there was a nurse nearby to assess his wound. He needed a social worker and we were able to locate a woman from our church who is one within minutes. He needed medical attention and he was given a ride to the hospital. The nurse who assessed Duane in Triage at the hospital happened to be another woman from our church and the doctor was compassionate and understanding. . All of that to me is clearly an act of God and beyond a simple COINCIDENCE. Above all though, Duane was able to hear that God loves him. Matthew 25:35 to 36 (NIV) “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
I have to wonder honestly how many other Duane’s there are in the world. Like the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” how many times have I looked at the outside and failed to see the heart and soul underneath? How many times have I failed to be the hands and feet of Jesus for those in the world that don’t “fit in” to my comfort zone? Along with the women I was there to serve the men but Duane is a man as well and he too deserved to be served. "Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ's compassion for the world is to look out; yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good; and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now." ~Saint Teresa of Avila
I don’t doubt for one second that God changed hearts that day during the men’s conference but Duane didn’t even hear one single speaker but may have needed the conference the most and God orchestrated a beautiful series of events and Duane was served and those around him gave meaning to what it means to be the “hands and feet” of Jesus.
As we sat down to eat with family on Thursday and the table was overflowing with food I thought of Duane. I wondered how he was doing and if he was still in the hospital or back out on the streets. Was he able to enjoy turkey on Thanksgiving or was his belly hungry and empty? So often we complain about the simple chaos of everyday life. Our circumstances aren’t always easy and things happen that knock us off our feet but it’s always a matter of perspective. I may grumble about waiting in a long line at the grocery store but then remember that I am blessed to be standing in line because that means we are blessed with money to buy food. I may grumble at the inconvenience of medical supplies overtaking our house but then be reminded that I am getting the medical attention I need. I can grumble about stepping on a Lego Macie left on the floor and then I am reminded that God has blessed me with a child who brings joys and laughter into our lives and home every day. “[Spiritual Fullness in Christ] So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness” Colossians 2:6-7 NIV
Looking at my kitchen table my heart smiles at our “Blessing Tree” sitting in the middle. At the beginning of November we get out our tree and it’s bare and not so pretty. Each day we write something we are thankful for and hang it on our tree. Around Thanksgiving we look at our tree and it’s no longer bare and ugly but beautiful and full. It’s a reminder to me that on our own we are empty but because of God’s continued blessings and hand in our lives we are overflowing with beauty and fullness. But before the tree comes down this year I have to add one more…………