A big, indistinguishable lump of green-gray clothing and blankets lay near the front door of Honest Automotive. It was still early morning and the shop had not yet opened. My husband pulled his truck to the left as I swung mine closer to the entrance so I could exit with ease. Randy sat bundling up a note along with his truck keys to poke through the drop-slot as I parked.
Immediately, all my senses went on alert! Dirty bare feet stuck out of the mess. My mind raced, assessing the situation. Mentally, I began locating supplies from various places the back of my truck.
The morning chill hit my arms as I flung open the door. Brrr! I forgot my jacket. Even though the weather predicted a hot one today, the morning air was still quite cold.
Dirt-encrusted and horribly callused, those feet had seen a lot of miles. They looked red and cold; the crusty, thickened nails appeared infected. As the muddled lump became clearer to me, I could see that the feet were attached to some legs in camo pants. A filthy thread-bare blanket was thrown over the upper body and head of this individual.
The bare feet stirred. What a relief!
Shoes! I have shoes! In the back of the truck! Just last night we had loaded a bunch of things into my vehicle. I knew there was a complete homeless bag made up just for a man. Hygiene and personal care items, socks, underwear,
t-shirt, food, water – it was all there! Grabbing the bag, I hopped out of the truck and made my way toward a man who was now sitting up but with head still drooping. Quietly I placed the bag before him and said,
“Good Morning, here’s a little breakfast!” Without waiting for a reply, I hurried back to the truck to see what else I could locate. By then, my husband was talking with the man.
Scraggly hair and filthy clothing encased this dejected soul. He could barely look up at us through the gnarled locks. A well-worn army backpack had been his pillow. He sat cross-legged, looking at the ground and shaking his head as we kept bringing things to him. He mumbled ‘thank-you’ and ‘God bless you’ over and over.
His stomach growled in loud protest as he pawed through the contents of the bag for food. He continued to mumble his thanks, shake his head and apologize. We told him he didn’t have to apologize but that God sent us to help. Randy asked if he had any water and how much he could carry and helped him to his feet.
Brushing back his tangled, matted hair, the man greeted us with tired blue eyes. Thirty? Thirty-Five? Guessing his age was hard. Stained, broken and missing teeth told of his hardship. He began apologizing that we had to see him like this. He and his traveling buddy had been attacked the previous evening and now the buddy was hospitalized. The police had dumped him there last night.
His name was Carl. He was from Arkansas. Obviously, he had been roaming around quite a while. He said he made it to Alaska in five days, but he was now two months trying to get back home. Granny was waiting. He had a place to go.
His eyes brightened as we spoke. He put on some shoes and stood as we asked if we could pray with him. I told him that I may never see him again in this life but that, when this life was all done, I wanted to see him in heaven!
Hanging his head and recoiling a bit as we attempted to grab his hands for prayer, Carl objected,
“You don’t want to touch me, I’m filthy, I’m dirty!”
“As far as God is concerned, we are all filthy until we let him into our lives and sort out our mess,” was my reply.
He allowed us to take his hands and he stood as erect as he could! Randy began a powerful prayer pronouncing God’s love for Carl and rehearsing what God had done for us through Jesus. Tears filled Carl’s eyes……… and mine. He squeezed our hands. My heart pushed past the nastiness of his condition. Randy hugged him.
No we didn’t lead him to the Lord. Somehow, this dusty soul seemed to know. All we did was to remind him that he needed to return to God and trust Him alone.
Work beckoned, calling us back into our world. We had to hurry so that Randy wouldn’t be late. In silence we drove home to pick up Randy’s work truck. Pondering God’s faithfulness, I had forgotten how cold I was.