I was helping my children out of their car seats when he approached me in the parking lot of a busy strip mall. His graying hair hung haphazardly across his forehead, his clothes slightly wrinkled. What struck me most was his nervous demeanor, almost as if he was terrified to say what he was about to ask.
His eyes pleaded with me, his feet shuffled a bit, as if he were ready to take off running for fear I might bite him. My heart melted with compassion. I felt my face soften.
“I’m so sorry, sir. While I actually do need a new vacuum, I’m just here in Florida visiting friends, and I don’t think I would be able to take it home on the plane.”
He looked a bit relieved that I didn’t snap at him like an alligator looking for lunch.
“Oh, that’s ok. I’m sorry to have bothered you.”
I sought to engage him. “It’s no bother. I hope you can find work soon.”
He heaved a sigh from deep within his soul. “I don’t know if I can. I’ve been a plumber all my life, but no one wants to hire someone in their 50’s. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’ll probably have to live out of my car.”
I felt helpless. I nodded towards the pizza place behind me with its sign boasting $5 ready-made pizzas as I said, “I’m headed in to buy some pizzas. I’d like to buy one for you if you’ll eat it.”
His eyes popped open in surprise and his feet started to shuffle again. “Oh, well, you don’t have to do that.”
I smiled. “I know, but I would like to, if you’ll let me.”
He didn’t know what to say. I motioned for him to follow me. My kids grasped each of my hands, miraculously silent and wide-eyed. I walked in and ordered a few ready-made pizzas to take to my friend’s house which is where I had been headed when he stopped me in the parking lot. I asked him which kind he wanted. He looked shocked that I would care. “Umm…pepperoni is fine.”
The cashier rang me up with a curious stare. While we waited for the pizzas, the gentleman excused himself, and stepped outside for a moment. He paced back and forth on the sidewalk, then came back inside.
The cashier handed me a stack of pizzas. The gentleman stepped forward, “Please, let me carry them for you.” I smiled. He followed me and the kids back to the car. I took the remainder of the pizzas and wished him well.
“I hope you are able to find a job soon. I’ll be praying for you,” I said. It sounded lame to my ears, but I sincerely meant it.
“Thank you much, ma’am. Thank you for the pizza, and I will eat the leftovers for breakfast,” he said with a sincere smile.
“God bless you, sir.” He started to walk away and I helped the kids finish buckling up.
We watched him get into his car filled to the roof with household belongings and drive off. I felt a lump in the back of my throat. I knew I’d never see him again. I prayed that God would bring people into His life that could help him get back on his feet. I prayed that I would be just one in a line of people who would show him love and a path to God.
**Visit the (in)courage blog and read the post “Love is a Verb” as well as the other posts linked about Love in Action. Happy Valentines Day to you all! Hope you had a blessed day and were able to show God’s love to those around you.