Wednesday, January 28, 2009

lunch with Jesus

Though officially closed to pay homage to our "ice day," I decided to come into the office today. An hour later, I ventured out for lunch and exited Wendy's with a couple of chicken sandwiches. To make the loop back to the church, I had to pull through several parking lots and there I encountered Charlie.

As I passed him, my conscience kicked into overdrive. I circled down the hill and into the parking lot of a liquor store hoping that all my congregants were snugly at home and wouldn't see me idling there. Charlie made his way cautiously down the ice-covered sidewalk and stepped over the guard rail to make his way under the bridge. I hollered across the creek bed, "Hey, have you had lunch?" Like a cat hearing the can opener, Charlie came the half-block toward me and we introduced ourselves.

"I thought you were Gary," I said, referring to another fellow I met a month ago.

"Gary?" he said. "You mean 'Big Green'?" We laughed as he described the monstrous post-six-foot friend that also lived in his secluded encampment.

"Have you had lunch today?" I asked.

"No," Charlie answered, still unsure where this connection was heading.

I said, "Well, it's either Panda or Jack-in-the-Box. You choose."

Charlie's eyes lit up. "Panda of course!" Why would anyone settle on a burger when the opportunity for a 3-entree meal was offered? As he tossed his backpack on the front floorboard of my SUV, he added, "It's nice to know that there are still good people in the world."

Good? My mind raced quickly to Mark 10:18: “Why do you call me good?“ Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone." Funny thing is, Jesus, as God, could have easily claimed that virtue for Himself. But me? I occasionally stumble over good things. But I have such a long way to go to be "good."

Lunch was chow mien noodles, shrimp, orange chicken, ragoons, shrimp crispers, chicken egg rolls and Gatorade. If Charlie pointed to it, we packed it up for him. Then, I ordered my modest "Panda Bowl"---a meal portion foreshadowing the fact that I would have another opportunity to eat in 5 hours. It's something I never even have to think about.

Charlie has been on the streets, off and on, for 10 years. He was remarkably cogent and shared his story: growing up in Savannah, Georgia (I spent 3 years in Lithonia); joining the Marines at age 19; building tractor trailers at 23; plucking chickens at a Butterball factory for several months; married twice; two 20-something children. I laughed when he told me about "plotting" the coordinates for air attacks when he was in the Marines. "And, I was no good at math in school!" he said. "The thing about math is that you just can't know the answer. You gotta know how to get the answer. It's the formula that matters!"

Wisdom. Pure wisdom. As a Christian, I know that Jesus is the "answer." Getting people to Jesus is equally important. It's seeing people like Jesus did, perceiving their need, loving the unlovely (aren't we all!?) and being Christ with flesh and bone to the world around us.

I invited Charlie to have dinner at our home tonight. The offer clearly made him uncomfortable. "I'd hate to put you out," he mumbled. His eyes shifting down to the restaurant floor.

"Charlie, I would be our highest privilege to have you as our guest. Think about it. At 5 o'clock, I'm going to come back to the parking lot and honk a couple of times..."

"I don't want to be rude, but I don't think I'll come. I'll be alright..."

"Charlie, please think it over," I insisted. "Five o'clock. If you're there, great. If not, we'll catch up with each other later."

Before I left, I gave him the two Wendy's chicken sandwiches still bagged in the back seat of my car. At least he'll have dinner tonight. And, I got to have lunch with Jesus today [Matthew 25:31-46].


george lynch said...

what a testimony of being "made ready" -- to look for opportunity to be and see Jesus in the here and now. what a gift you gave. what a gift you received for your $8.

honk if you love Jesus has a new meaning tonight at 5


Suzy Finigan said...

I'm at work after slipping and sliding up 360 because I have a really big project due tomorrow. I took a minute during my "lunch" (a frozen stromboli in a red box that was killed by the microwave) to check your blog. I am now sitting here smiling with a warmth coming from my heart. Lunch with Jesus, huh? Way cool....BTW, if your new friend changes his mind about dinner, tell him that I thank him for his military service and have added him to my prayer list.

Susan said...

I know what his answer was...I've already been IMing with your son on facebook! WOW!!! will love watching this unfold.

Mike said...

what a blessing you are to so many. i hope charlie had a good night sleep at your home. i believe God has big things in store with this upcoming you think the trials of this past december may have been preparing my heart for it!?

David Daniels said...

Thanks Mike. And, yes....I believe God is always using our "today" to prepare us for our "tomorrow." God wastes no moments. There are no leftover parts when He is through. The greateest challenege is me having my eyes open wide enough to see! Blessings to you.

Manny said...

What a wonderful testimony! I may be crazy but that seemed incredibly easy, all things considered. What an inspiration.

I truly appreciate your heart as you are unfolding this theme over the next few weeks. We are very eager to be following online here in Madrid with high hopes that God will do a work in our hearts to enhance our ability to glorify Him in more significant ways.

God bless you and your ministry!

David Daniels said...

Manny,Thanks for writing.
you hit the nail on the head. The thing that I most learned from this experience IS how easy it is. The phrase that has been coming to mind is, "Just take the next best step." That's all we're called to do.

george lynch said...

manny captured it so well -- the details you share make it seem easy to step into the flow. Blessings await so many when we do -- including us.