“But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” – I Samuel 16:7

“Hey, buddy, how’s it going?”

I was sitting outside at Panera’s enjoying a comfortable spring morning as I worked on my sermon for Sunday. When I looked up I saw this old street man walking past me headed for Panera’s front door. No offense to Panera’s but in the suburbs street people are not their normal clientele. I responded, “Fine, thank you.” He went into the restaurant and I continued reading.

A few minutes later he came out, walked towards me and plopped down in the chair opposite me. Then I got a good look. He had a grizzled beard and his face was blackened by many years of hard work and the sun. His teeth were crooked and he wore a sock hat and a scarf on a warm day. When he talked you he jutted his jaw like a man whose teeth were coming apart. In fact, a single tooth protruded from his mouth like a small rhino’s horn.

He spoke in bursts with an abrupt sort of clarity. “It’s not a bad day.” Holding up a paper bag from inside Panera’s he said, “I still owe them 29 cents but they trust me.” “It’s good to be trusted,” I commented. “You just don’t always have the cash. Got lots of bills and I don’t spend what I don’t have.” “A lot of us should have learned that sooner,” I confessed. “Yeah, but I only have $8 per day and you can’t buy much of nothing on eight dollars.”

We moved on from economics to his wife with whose 84th birthday was today. Before I could comment, he added, “She’s spent the last 23 birthdays in heaven.” “Oh!”

“I tell people about heaven, and they tell me I’m crazy.” I could relate to that. “Then I tell them about hell and they just laugh. People don’t want to take me seriously.”

“Why is that?” I asked.

“Because I am old and dress funny. People shouldn’t judge people by the outside.”

“The Good Book tells us God doesn’t,” I added.

“It’s the way people are. Too bad. I tell them there are only two choices-heaven and earth and earth ultimately just takes you to hell.”

“They don’t like that neither, but I never apologize for the truth. It’s just the truth.”

After about 25 minutes I bid him good bye and wished him a happy wife’s birthday. “Thanks young man” was his response. “Thanks for talking to me,” was mine.

I suspect that this old street man was a messenger from the Lord. I know he spoke the truth and I was strengthened by it.

(C) 2012 by Stephen L Dunn

This post originally appeared in m devotional blog THRIVING IN CHRIST

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