Exiting the coffee shop last week it was unseasonably warm. Spring wrapped in summers temperatures. Trees flouting their first blooms. Sidewalks filled with bike riders and walkers anxious to take in the suns warmth after a long winter.
It was the first time I had seen him. There he sat. Ragged. Glazed, unseeing eyes. Slumped shouldered, yet with head thrown back taking in the warmth of the sun’s rays. It was almost as if he thought the sun itself could feed his empty stomach.
The first time I had seen him I walked past. Startled by his vacant, glazed eyes. At first they frightened me; but almost instantly my fear turned to compassion.
What makes eyes so hallow, so unseeing? I thought.
I have seen many homeless in our town, but I had never seen him before.
Now, a week later, as my daughter pulled the van into the slanted parking space, I saw him. Occupying the same black-metal bistro chair outside the coffee shop. Long, unkept hair. Gnarled beard and no warm coat.
“It’s too cold to be sitting outside today!” I thought. The air was biting, even bone chilling. The temperature had dropped nearly thirty-five degrees since I had seen him basking in the sun last week.
As my daughter gathered her purse to run a quick errand I immediately felt a heart-jab. This man needed warmth.
“Wait!” I spoke hastily as I reached for my purse and began pulling out bills. “Before you run your errand will you go into the coffee shop?”
“Sure, mom. Do you want me to get you a coffee?”
“No.” I said. “God is impressing on me that the man sitting at the outside table needs a coffee. Maybe coffee and a scone. I added”
She glanced out the window. “Sounds good mom.” And off she went.
As I sat in the van with my granddaughter I watched with expectation for her to exit the coffee shop. My shoulders dropped with disappointment when moments later the street-stranger got up and walked away before he could receive the gift. It was almost as if my voice was willing him to stay. “Warmth is coming! Please stay!” I said to myself.
Crestfallen I watched him walk into the store next to the coffee shop. Was he the store owner? I questioned. Or is he going inside to warm up?
I saw my daughter come out of the coffee shop and turn to run her errand. Returning to the car she said with dismay; “He’s not there, mom! Sorry.”
As she began to hand me the large coffee and bakery bag I blurted out with excited potential. “He went into the store next to the coffee shop.”
“The one with the coats hanging in the front window?” She questioned.
“Yes!” I said excitedly. Hopeful that our compassion mission was not in vain.
Minutes later my daughter emerged from the store with a smile.
“He was inside playing on a game. I think he was trying to get out of the cold.” She said radiantly.
“I gave him the coffee and scone. I told him that my mom has cancer and hasn’t been able to get out and mingle with people, but that she had seen him sitting outside in the cold and wanted him to have this.”
I beamed! But what she told me next warmed my heart to an all-new level.
“As I gave him the coffee and scone I told him, “God sees you.”
My daughter then told me that when she was in the coffee shop that she felt compelled to write those three words on his cup.
My heart was full. One simple prompting of the Holy Spirit, but together my daughter and I complimented each other in this small effort of showing love, value and compassion to a stranger.
“How beautiful.” I thought, as we drove away. “Two hearts moved to compassion with one simple act showing God’s love.”
“God sees you!” Such a powerful truth to carry me through a new week.
God knows what I am going through. God sees me! God understands my disappointments. God sees me! God cares about the hard decisions I need to make. God sees me! God meets me in my loneliness. God sees me!
What about you…I wonder who you will cross paths with in your neighborhood this week? Who needs reminded that they are loved and valued? Who do you need to whisper these three life-giving words to… “God sees you!”
Will you be willing to ask God to use you to run an errand of mercy? To be the hands and feet of Christ Jesus? To offer a cup of cold water or possibly a cup of coffee and a scone in His name. For His sake. For His glory!
As I write, I am reminded of the words of Christ in Matthew 25:40-45.
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
“Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
“Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
“And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.” (Scripture taken from the New Living Translation)
God, give to me eyes that see the needs of others. Fill me with a heart of compassion. Move me to respond with love and mercy.
I pray that today my heart will stay attune to the voice of the Spirit of God. To be swift to move in obedience, so that I might be a bright beacon of hope to the lost, the weary, the wayward.
Season my words with grace, ever mindful that you are indeed …The God who Sees!
God, thank you that you not only see me, but you will use me to see and respond to the needs of others.
In Jesus Name, AMEN
GOD SEES YOU!
“…when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me.
Matthew 25:40 NLT