I met a new friend today. His name is Danny. I’m in love.
It’s okay, you can tell my husband. I plan to.
It started when I saw him this afternoon, while I was out and about going several different places across the city in a [failed] attempt to buy some new clothes. Not because I’m running around threadbare or naked. Not even close. (You’re welcome.) I just like to buy a couple of new things each year when school starts. You know, new school clothes.
So in all my driving around I was downtown near the arena district when I spotted my new love. There he was, in the afternoon sun, wearing what appeared to be the same clothes he’d worn for days. His scraggly beard was fairly long. He was missing several teeth (which I could tell from quite far away) and he was at least 5 inches shorter than me.
However, it was not exactly love at first sight. It was more like love at first nudge. I was in my car, coming up to a red light and in the middle lane. He was standing on the sidewalk to my right, slowly walking. His sign said “Homeless and very needy. Please help.” I watched him from the corner of my eye for just a couple of seconds. I could see the disappointment and a little speck of disdain on his face as every driver and passenger kept their eyes starkly facing forward as he walked by, refusing to acknowledge what they’d surely already seen.
A person. A man. A man in need of something. In need of something so badly that he resorted to begging anyone –everyone– to help.
That’s when I heard our love song. Cranking in my car at that exact moment was:
Your love, Your love/ the only thing that matters is/ Your love, Your love/it’s all I have to give
Your love/ is enough/ to light up the darkness/ It’s Your love, Your love/ All I ever needed is Your love
I knew then that I was his answer, at least for that day. God wanted to use me to deliver some love and maybe even provide him with the means to eat that day. So I started to reach for my purse, to get some money out. The light turned green. All the cars around me started to move and I needed to get over. No one was even thinking about acquiescing to my turn signal. I was starting to create a line of angry drivers who were behind me since I was inconveniencing them by making a last-minute decision to change lanes. It was annoying, I admit. So I hit the gas pedal and moved forward onto the freeway ramp I was right in line for. I had a moment, just a moment, where I thought well, it wasn’t meant to be since I wasn’t able to get to him quickly enough. I’ll pray for him. Then…
Why worry about someone’s soul but don’t bother to give them a basic need when you know you can?
FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD. (James Ch.2, the kinda-ghetto Krysten version)
I thought about all the other songs I’d listened to that day while I was out and about doing my thing. The lyrics shot through me light lightning bolts, one right after another.
I want more of you, God…
I’ve found a love greater than life itself….
No place I’d rather be/ than here in Your love…
Nothing can tear us from/ the grip of His mighty love…
He lavishes His love upon us/ He calls us now his sons and daughters…
We’ve only glimpsed/ His vast affection/ heard whispers of/His heart and passion…
So I DID pray, but not for the man. I prayed that he would still be there so I could go do what I knew God was asking of me. (So I guess I was praying for myself?) I got off at the next exit. I turned around. I got back on the freeway. I spotted my man and found a place to park. I walked toward him and was keenly aware of all the confused and frightened scares of the people in the cars when they realized I was talking right up to him.
I tapped him on the shoulder and told him how happy I was that he was still there. (again, was this for me?)
He smiled his toothless smile and hugged me.
I told him I saw him a little earlier but couldn’t get to him, but that I’d turned my car around and came back so I could come give him some money to help him through the day.(Why did I tell him that? What did I expect, a medal!?)
And you know what he said?
He said: “Well, you didn’t have to do that! All you had to do was love me!”
ALL YOU HAD TO DO WAS LOVE ME.
He told me his name was Danny. We talked for a while about how the weather was nice even though it was hot, and how his back hurt and how he just sleeps any place he can find, and how he knows the people who owned the building he was standing near but they don’t have anywhere for him to stay in there. He hugged me three times and introduced himself twice in the span of 5 minutes. He’d been on the streets for 25 years. YEARS.
I told him I would look for him again, and I will. I told him I would be praying for him to stay safe and for his back to heal. And I will. He was so thankful to hear that, of all things.
The whole experience took less than 15 minutes, surely. But he will last forever whether I see him again or not. I’d been wondering lately if I’ve been obedient to God, I mean anytime recently. I’d seen such beautiful pictures painted in several lives around me, of just pure obedience and the lovely results that follow. I couldn’t remember the last time I was obedient to a nudge from the Spirit. I’d asked Him to bring something to mind so I could remember it, but God was gracious enough to do me one better…. He gave me a new opportunity to be obedient to his voice. It’s almost romantic.
All I had to do was love him, he said.