I offer you a strange story without a clear ending. My perspective goes like this:
Just as I pulled away from the stop sign on my way home from town, I saw him. He held a sign: “Traveling. Broke. Hungry.” As my car rolled past, he acknowledged me with a small wave. It all happened so fast, I could not think. So I simply kept going. But immediately my thoughts churned. How I wished I hadn’t even seen him because I didn’t know how to respond. Maybe I could just try to forget the whole thing. But how could I do nothing? I had just been pondering a talk by Ray Vanderlaan about God’s intense passion to bring the outsider in. He wants all people in, Gentiles of all stripes – like me. And him. How could I ignore this opportunity?
By the time I reached the Subway a half mile down the road, I knew what I would do: order a large sub sandwich and take it back to him. Eagerly, I chose a foot-long sub and had it loaded with the things I would have loved to eat, then added a tall glass of ice water. Heading back to the stop sign where I’d seen him only minutes earlier, I prayed that Jesus, who is our Bread, would use this physical bread to speak to the young man’s heart. I felt a touch of God, His joy.
I rounded the corner, my eyes searching for him. And then, I saw he was gone. Evidence of his presence remained, but no sign of him, nor the sign. Astonished, I drove past a second time. Where was he? Had it simply been a figment of my imagination? But no, some of his belongings still lay grouped around the stop sign. “Someone must have given him money and he went to buy food,” I concluded. What in the world?! Now what? I can’t eat this delicious smelling sub because I avoid gluten. What a strange plot.
II headed home, my thoughts whirling. I felt disillusioned. So I follow what I believe is His voice and it ends like this? I could drop the sandwich off at my sister’s house. They would enjoy it. But now the sandwich felt set apart and almost sacred. Its specific mission had been to encourage someone who needed God’s touch.
About a mile down the road, I asked, “Lord, who do you want to bless with this food?” Immediately the name of a couple came to mind: Paul and Edith Yoder, members of my church who live in town with the specific goal of being the hands of Christ to people like that young man. They quickly answered my knock, listened to my story, and gratefully accepted the offered food. Then we stood in a circle and prayed for that young man.
End of story. Or is it? I conclude that perhaps it represents much of life’s journey where I rarely, if ever, really know what God is up to. My perspective is always extremely limited, bound by time, space, and finite understanding while He, the Master Author, writes His stories intertwining my life with many others.
Often, I cannot understand the plot. But I can bow to and trust the One whose care is boundless, whose wisdom is infinite, and who knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10).