His name was James.
We didn't know him. Had never seen him before. He was a complete stranger. But he knocked on our door one quiet Sunday afternoon after we had just come back from church. I was cleaning up the kitchen from our lunch mess, and there came a knock at the door.
My husband answered, then came around the corner into the kitchen and said, "There's a man here who is asking if we can make him some lunch. He's on his way to Oklahoma." I looked out in the driveway; there was no vehicle.
"What? Is he walking?"
"Yeah, I guess. He has a backpack."
I suddenly stopped. It was perfect timing, or as I like to say, it was "God timing"-Don't put that lunch stuff away just yet.
"Yes, of course, invite him in!"
I came to the front door with my husand so we could invite the man in. He looked grateful but ashamed at the same time. He kept his head low but his eyes made contact with ours when he spoke to say, "I'm truly grateful. I'll just wait out here."
We insisted that he came in, and as my husband sat down with him in the living room I set to work in the kitchen. Something came over me, and I wanted us to help this stranger as much as we could. There was no worry, no fear, no judgement of this man who, for some reason, chose to knock on our door that afternoon. Who knew how many other doors he had knocked at before ours? All I knew is that I was eager to serve him. I searched my cupboards and praised the Lord that I had just gone grocery shopping and had plenty-more than plenty-to offer! I quickly put together some sandwiches, fruit, crackers, and also an extra sack of food for him to take with him.
I brought the lunch to my husband and to the man who told us his name was James. As my husband sat and talked with him he learned that James was from a few hours away. He was coming from a hard life, full of lots of mistakes. He didn't disclose too many details, but told us he was trying to clean up his life and start over. Currently, he was on his way to Oklahoma because he had heard there may be some jobs down there. He had only the backpack on his back for his belongings, his two feet for transportation, and no money left. He ate his food and politely asked for seconds, so my husband continued to talk with him while I made more food. As I listened to their conversation I only heard bits and pieces, but I did hear James exclaim, "Wow, you have a really nice home." I also heard him ask, "What's it like to have a family and a home?" I didn't hear much else but I prayed, Lord, help us to just show James your love. Help us to serve him.
James wasn't at our house for long, less than 45 minutes, but by the end of our visit with him my husband had offered to drive him an hour away to Joplin (which I was about to suggest, but I guess we had been thinking the same thing!). I jumped on the computer to do a quick search for shelters that may be able to take him in once he got there. I gave him an extra bag of food I had packed, and then they left for Joplin. That was it.
As I sat there after they left, I was in awe. I was humbled. I was so thankful that the Lord chose to use us, for some reason, to help him out. Out of all the neighborhoods and houses and people he could have come to, he knocked on our little door. I was thankful that we had food to offer. I was thankful that we had a working vehicle to drive James closer to his destination. But most of all, I felt rich. Actually, I don't think I've ever felt so rich. I think my eyes were opened in a new way to all that I had.
Here was someone with virtually nothing. A broken past. A backpack, and now an extra lunch. He sat in our little home, which by our own culture's standard is very humble, and he exclaimed how nice it was. I thought of how often I'm tempted to think I don't have much; how at times I get frustrated because our tight budget doesn't allow for us to eat out more often; or how easy it is to "joke" about being poor because I can't buy myself a new outfit; or how we sometimes avoid having people over because our house is so small and un-impressive compared to others. And yet James sat in here and looked at our humble little home and probably felt like we had a mansion. We did, compared to what he had. And as he looked around, with an expression of longing on his face, I knew I was rich. And I knew I would never "joke" about being poor again.
As Christmas approaches, and our western secularized version of it screams at us from every commercial to buy, buy, BUY, more stuff, I hope we can all look at what we have, no matter how much or how little, and realize just how rich we truly are. I hope we can all remember that what we do have is a gift from the Lord, and it is best used by giving back and serving others as He calls each of his followers to do. And I hope we remember that the reason we do this is because He first GAVE to us-the most precious, most costly gift of all-His son. And that is what Christmas is all about.
Be encouraged and lifted up! May you know the joy and peace of the Lord this Christmas season. And may that joy cause you to give to overflowing!
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. -John 3:16