One day last week when the sun was shining, I poured a glass of lemonade and headed outside with my two kids. Public school was still in session, so the neighborhood was moderately peaceful. The older woman across the street just brought her two yapping, fluffy balls of fur inside. The neighbors on either side of us were in work. I plopped into one of my two green, plastic Adirondack chairs sitting in my front lawn and my son took the other. My daughter opted to play with her miniature horses on the porch.
I hadn’t really noticed him until he was right in front of us, but Fred (I’ve changed his name to protect the innocent, and because I cannot remember his real name.) suddenly appeared on the sidewalk directly in front of my house. He glanced over and I called out a greeting because I’m friendly like that. “Hello” was all the invitation Fred needed. Before I knew what was happening, we were in a lengthy conversation about nothing.
Fred is a city worker. He was walking home after a long, hot day at work, at least he was wearing the tell-tale reflective vest that confirmed he worked for the city. However, he could have also been a serial killer or an angel. I’m still not sure which.
He held up his empty plastic bottle, saying that he drank up all the Gatorade during work, and then he asked if he could have some water.
Clearly the man was hot. Sweat poured down his face. It was around eighty degrees that afternoon, bake-in-the-sun kind of weather for us ice-dwellers. I told my son to bring his Gatorade bottle into the house and fill it with cold water.
Fred was happy.
He kept talking.
He seemed like a simple man, harmless enough, but yet a little part of my brain thought he would make a perfect serial killer. As he chatted, I plotted the scenario in my head and filed it away for a book idea.
Fred – the simple middle-aged man who lived in town all his life. Everyone knew him and his family. Over time, all of his family passed away, and now Fred lives alone in his house up on the hill. When he’s not working for the town, he’s tinkering around with his backhoe. He sure does love digging holes with that backhoe, has ever since we could remember. Nobody worries about Fred being a little different, after all he’s harmless, or so they all thought until women began going missing.
I hate that my mind thinks like this. I really do.
Since I’m not dead, Fred’s not a serial killer in real life.
Or is he?
He could have been that angel the Bible talks about in Hebrews 13:2, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
I wonder what would have happened if I didn’t say hello. Would I have missed the opportunity, however small, to do something as unto the Lord? Maybe entertain an angel?
I could be wrong, but I think that verse is as true today as it was in Bible times.
In reality, Fred was probably just a thirsty city worker. I did my good deed for a fellow human and a far neighbor. I’ve been thinking though…it’s a terrible thing when I start thinking. I’ve already told you about the serial killer thoughts…
The Bible talks a lot about giving to the poor. I think the verses that reference the “poor” are talking about financially poor, those without money or resources to care for themselves. I believe God calls his followers, those who believe Jesus’ teachings, to meet the needs of the poor. I don’t think it’s the government’s job to care for the poor through welfare and special assistance programs; I think caring for the poor is the churches’ responsibility. I believe that’s Scriptural, although I’m not taking the time to list every single Scripture reference.
Sometimes the people who warm the church pews on Sunday are the ones complaining the loudest on Monday. We bash the government and their programs; however, the government wouldn’t need their programs if we pew-sitters were doing our jobs.
I’m a pew-sitter too, so don’t take offense.
I’ve given food from my freezer, made meals, and gifted my money, but have I missed other opportunities? Probably. Am I doing all I could be doing, all God expects of me? I doubt it.
On a whole, as a universal church (a worldwide body of believers), I don’t think we’ve done enough.
It’s not only financial. I truly believe some people are poor in areas that have nothing to do with finances. There are those that are poor in spirit, poor in truth, poor in understanding. I’m not trying to read more into the Bible than what is said, it’s just that the gears in my noggin have been turning. It’s God’s plan for us to pour ourselves into others, both financially and in other ways.
Sometimes I just get so busy judging people for the stupid choices that got them into their predicaments, that I hold back the blessing of meeting their needs. I think this is true for most of us.
Did you know the Bible says that if someone has a need and we can fill, we are commanded to fill that need?
Luke 6:27-31 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
Proverbs 21:13 Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.
Proverbs 28:27 He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse.
It’s a radical idea, even for those of us who say we believe.
Fred, the angelic serial killer, told us about a DVD he plucked from the trash that morning. Could I believe it has a case and everything? My children, rightfully wary of this stranger, looked at me with a smile. They would have rescued that Chipmunks DVD themselves.
The truth is, I hope I don’t see Fred again when I’m home alone. He was a little too odd for my comfort, and you know I have a overactive imagination. I just pray I’ll take other opportunities, big and small, to spend myself on another.
You never know when you will entertain a stranger unawares. How many do we overlook?
There are those who need little more than a few minutes of our time and maybe a glass of water.