A Blessing - Disguised as a Homeless Man

It was 12:25 AM, Friday morning, and I just had a first time experience which had left me somewhat in awe, somewhat exhilarated, and somewhat shaken. I have been a walker all of my life; loving to take long walk, preferably in the evening. To the dismay of my family, I often like to walk late at night. I have walked in almost every major city in this country, many smaller cities, and in some beautiful countryside in England. Traveling on business, I always like to have dinner in my hotel room, then go for a walk.

In all the years I have been walking, often late in the evening; I have never had anyone give me any problems. As I walk, I always speak to people I pass. I have often passed groups of young people, sometimes in their "hood" clothing, and I always say hello to them. They have always responded to my greeting. Only twice have I had a problem, and they were with teenage white boys trying to impress their friends by being smart-mouthed to this old man --- to them, anyone over thirty is old. But, I have never had any serious problems.

When I walk, I carry a fiber golf club handle, primarily because in past years I have seen dogs wandering around.

That night, I left my home about 11:45 PM and was walking the same route I have walked for years. As I was walking, I was praying and asking God if I am doing the ministry He truly wants me to be doing. I told Him, "Lord, I believe I am doing the ministry You gave me, and I know that, when I write an article, You are guiding my thoughts and words. But, Lord, is this what You want me to be doing? Please, Lord, help me to know that I am doing Your will."

I walked about two more blocks, and as I was walking east on Magnolia Avenue, a major, busy boulevard through this area --- suddenly a man who appeared to be homeless, about forty years old, jumped out in front of me and started screaming and cursing me. He was angry and extremely agitated, he was screaming, he was calling me names. I started backing up, shifting my golf club to my right hand, but not wanting to use it. I backed up into the street; he followed me, screaming and cursing. At one time, he said, "Damn it, give me ten dollars." I told him, "I don't have any money" --- which is the truth, for I never carry a wallet or any valuables when I walk.

I backed all the way across east-bound Magnolia, through the traffic, all the time telling him, "Cool it, man. I don't want any trouble."

Soon, I was on the island between east-bound and west-bound Magnolia, a wide area with trees, landscaping, and open space. Finally, I stopped and just stood there. I told him, "Look, I don't have any money. But, I want to be your friend." I could see his face change slightly, I could see just a bit of the anger leave. I walked up to him, put my right hand on his left shoulder, and told him, "I want to be your friend. I love you; God loves you. Can I pray for you?" And he said, "Yes."

I held his shoulder and prayed that God would touch this man, help him, and provide for his needs. I prayed for God to show His love to this man. Then, I hugged him. He hugged me back, so tightly, and said in a soft voice, "This is what I really want." He wanted someone to care, someone to care enough to hug him, a homeless man, and say, "I love you." Then, he walked calmly away.

Was this God's way of showing me that I am doing the ministry He wants me to be doing? I don't know for sure; but, I do know that God was on that highway island with me as I prayed with this homeless man. I know that His love shown through me for this man. And I know that this man felt it also. This man felt God's love and His peace, through my touch and my prayer.

Later, in sharing this again with my wife, it dawned on me that I had forgotten one key observation. I never really thought about it when I was talking with this man; I never really thought about it afterwards, not until the next day when I was again going over in my mind what had happened and how frightened I was initially during this confrontation; until the Holy Spirit calmed my heart. One of the first things most people, including myself, would think of when considering hugging a homeless person is --- will they have an odor? That never entered my mind that night; but, as I thought about it later, I realized that he had no odor whatsoever. He was as fresh as a baby coming out of a bath. He had no odor; his clothing had no odor --- yet, he was obviously homeless and living on the streets. Was this another message from God; was God telling me, as He did Peter in Acts 10:15, "What God has cleansed, . . ."

So, you can see why I felt somewhat shaken after this was over and decided to just go back home instead of finishing my walk. But, I also feel exhilarated because I know that God touched that man through me tonight.

My wife told me, "That is all well and good. But, from now on, please walk earlier in the evening."

I think maybe she is right. But, I praise God for using me that night.

Bill Gray [email protected]

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