You know, today started like any other day...really, it did. What started as "normal" has now become a life lesson for me. Today was the day for my monthly trek to get lab work and an update on my ongoing treatment for liver disease.
Before I got to the doctor, my good buddy Jim called me and we passed the time while I drove discussing a variety of things, but we sort of ended up focusing on the NFL and the incredibly large salaries that players make to play so badly. (Joke...insert laugh here... :) Ok, anyway, somehow we ended up questioning why these overpaid and pampered players make millions of dollars, but guys like Jim's son-in-law, who's in the US Navy, get paid next to nothing. Society's priorities seem to be totally out of whack...personal opinion, but when people who protect us, or save lives can't afford to feed their families, or proper health care, there is something wrong. I made the point that if these pro athletes, who keep talking about social activism and helping society really wanted to do some good, why not
adopt a homeless vet. Sponsor that person and help them get back on their feet. It's seems like the least we can do as a way of saying THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE/SACRIFICE....but, I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for this to happen.
So, I go into the doctor's office, get my blood draw done, and all that other good stuff. Megan tells me that I'm not done for yet, so off I go. Sine it was so incredibly boring and uneventful (THANK YOU GOD!), I decided to go to Lowe's to pick up some wood for some crosses that I promised several people I would make them before Thanksgiving. As I was about to climb into my truck, I was approached by a man wearing an old army fatigue jacket and knit cap. I wasn't really able to judge his age, but it was easy to see that this gentleman had led a tough life. His face was care worn and tired and he spoke with the distinctive trace of someone who had suffered either a stroke or head injury in his lifetime.
In spite of his shabby appearance, there was a sparkle of life in his eyes that I immediately noticed. He asked me if there was anyway I could find it in my heart to help him get a cup of coffee and some food. He looked like he probably hadn't eaten a good meal in a while and there was a genuine and sincere look on his face. I immediately recalled my conversation with Jim earlier, and it occurred to me that I had spoken so freely about others helping those in need, and now here I was, face to face with a man who obviously needed a little help.
I never could get him to reveal his name, but he began to tell me his story, in his own rambling way. He was married at one time, but I got the sense that this was no longer the case. He was in the Army at one time, but was injured and left the service due to these injuries....something about "...being blown up at Camp Shelby". He showed me scars on his neck and around one ear that were the result of his injuries. He told me how he had surgery on his ear and neck at Memorial Hospital and he was going back there one day to get "everything else fixed". Then he started laughing, almost hysterically, and began to tell me about the 6 raccoons and 7 rabbits he was raising and how he was going to eat "REALLY GOOD" for Thanksgiving. He was laughing about the fact that he learned to cook raccoon in Wiggins, Mississippi, but his wife was from Gulfport.....and she "WON'T EAT NARRY A BIT OF COON MEAT!" I was laughing so hard I started choking!
I've got to admit, I was very uncomfortable about saying or doing something to offend him, but at the same time, I felt a total sense of peace while we talked. He was just so "genuine"...if you can understand that. I quickly prayed for guidance, because common sense says that to invite a total stranger into your vehicle and drive off with them is not a wise move. *THIS IS THE PART WHERE MY WIFE IS GOING TO STRANGLE ME!!! My wife is caring and thoughtful person, she just gets upset when I make "questionable" decisions...like this one.
Wise or foolish, I didn't know, but I truly felt led by the Holy Spirit and I told him to climb in and I would take him to get something to eat. When I asked him where he would like to go, he immediately said Burger King..."They got good coffee". So, off to Burger King we go. We talked along the way and to be honest, I really didn't understand much of what he was saying, but I did find out that the people at Camp Shelby were bad, the people at Memorial Hospital were good, and the people at Burger King were GREAT! So, he got some coffee and breakfast and told me all the different medical procedures he had endured...I didn't understand a lot of this part of our conversation, but he really must have had some serious issues through the years.
Oh, I guess it was about this time that he revealed that he was only 51 years old. WOW...He was only 5 years younger than me, but he might as well have been 151. I don't really know if anything he told me was true, but somehow, I believe it was. He thanked me and then blessed me...HE BLESSED ME! I started to ask him to stay, but before I could pray with him, he said "Gotta go...got get to my wife and feed them raccoons!"...and he turned and walked away. He was talking to himself as he wandered off down the street. Maybe I should have followed him, but it seemed like this was the way our meeting should end.
He'll never know it, but meeting this man really did bless ME!!! God has revealed so much to me in the last few months, and I'm not always the sharpest knife in the drawer (...I don't understand right away what God's saying to me), but my life was changed today! We encounter people every day, and we don't know what's going on in their lives, or the struggles they are facing. Sometimes, just a kind word, or opening a door, or a cup of coffee and a biscuit can be a blessing to someone who needs it!
We all just need to open our minds and our hearts and recognize when God gives us an opportunity to reach out to someone...who knows? YOU may be the one who ends up getting blessed...I KNOW I WAS!
PEACE & LOVE
Husband, father, sinner saved by the Grace of God, old teacher, wood-worker, bad golfer, USM Golden Eagle (forever) and MSU Bulldog lover (It's a daughter thing)