Daniel’s Gloves

Someone thought enough of me to share this.  In keeping with that same spirit, I pass it on to you…

I sat, with two friends, in the picture window of a quaint restaurant just off
the corner of the town-square.  The food and the company were both especially
good that day.
 
As we talked, my attention was drawn outside, across the street.  There,
walking into town, was a man who appeared to be carrying all his worldly goods
on his back.  He was carrying, a well-worn sign that read, ‘I will work for
food.’  My heart sank.
 
I brought him to the attention of my friends and noticed that others around us
had stopped eating to focus on him.  Heads moved in a mixture of sadness and
disbelief.
 
We continued with our meal, but his image lingered in my mind.  We finished
our meal and went our
separate ways.  I had errands to do and quickly set out to accomplish them.  I
glanced toward the town square, looking somewhat halfheartedly for the strange
visitor.  I was fearful, knowing that seeing him again would call some
response.  I drove through town and saw nothing of him.  I made some purchases
at a store and got back in my car.

Deep within me, the Spirit of God kept speaking to me: ‘Don’t go back to the
office until you’ve  at least driven once more around the square…’
 
Then with some hesitancy, I headed back into town.  As I turned the square’s
third corner, I saw him.  He was standing on the steps of the store front
church, going through his sack.
 
I stopped and looked; feeling both compelled to speak to him, yet wanting to
drive on.  The empty parking space on the corner seemed to be a sign from God:
an invitation to park.  I pulled in, got out and approached the town’s newest
visitor.
 
‘Looking for the pastor?’ I asked…
 
‘Not really,’ he replied, ‘just resting.’
 
‘Have you eaten today?’
 
‘Oh, I ate something early this morning.’
 
‘Would you like to have lunch with me?’
 
‘Do you have some work I could do for you?’
       
‘No work,’ I replied ‘I commute here to work from the city, but I would like
to take you to lunch.’
 
‘Sure,’ he replied with a smile.
 
As he began to gather his things, I asked some surface questions.  Where you
headed?’
 
‘St. Louis’
 
‘Where you from?’
 
‘Oh, all over; mostly Florida …’
 
‘How long you been walking?’
 
‘Fourteen years,’ came the reply.
 
I knew I had met someone unusual.  We sat across from each other in the same
restaurant I had left earlier.  His face was weathered slightly beyond his 38
years.  His eyes were dark yet clear, and he
spoke with an eloquence and articulation that was startling.  He removed his
jacket to reveal a bright red T-shirt that said, ‘Jesus is The Never Ending
Story.’

Then Daniel’s story began to unfold.. He had seen rough times early in life.
He’d made some wrong choices and reaped the consequences.. Fourteen years
earlier, while backpacking across the country, he had stopped on the beach in
Daytona.  He tried to hire on with some men who were putting up a large tent
and some equipment.. A concert, he thought.

He was hired, but the tent would not house a concert but revival services, and
in those services he saw life more clearly… He gave his life over to God.
 
‘Nothing’s been the same since,’ he said, ‘I felt the Lord telling me to keep
walking, and so I did, some 14 years now.’
 
‘Ever think of stopping?’ I asked.
 
‘Oh, once in a while, when it seems to get the best of me But God has given me
this calling.  I give out Bibles.  That’s what’s in my sack… I work to buy
food and Bibles, and I give them out
when His Spirit leads..’
 
I sat amazed.  My homeless friend was not homeless.. He was on a mission and
lived this way by
choice.  The question burned inside for a moment and then I asked:

‘What’s it like?’
 
‘What?’
 
‘To walk into a town carrying all your things on your back and to show your
sign?’
 
‘Oh, it was humiliating at first.  People would stare and make comments.  Once
someone tossed a piece of half-eaten bread and made a gesture that certainly
didn’t make me feel welcome.  But
then it became humbling to realize that God was using me to touch lives and
change people’s concepts of other folks like me.’
 
My concept was changing, too.  We finished our dessert and gathered his
things.  Just outside the door, he paused He turned to me and said, ‘Come Ye
blessed of my Father and inherit the kingdom
I’ve prepared for you.. For when I was hungry you gave me food, when I was
thirsty you gave me drink, a stranger and you took me in.’
 
I felt as if we were on holy ground. ‘Could you use another Bible?’ I asked.
 
He said he preferred a certain translation.  It traveled well and was not too
heavy.  It was also his personal favorite.. ‘I’ve read through it 14 times,’
he said.
 
‘I’m not sure we’ve got one of those, but let’s stop by our church and see’ I
was able to find my new friend a Bible that would do well, and he seemed very
grateful.
 
‘Where are you headed from here?’ I asked.
 
‘Well, I found this little map on the back of this amusement park coupon.’
 
‘Are you hoping to hire on there for awhile?’
 
‘No, I just figure I should go there.  I figure someone under that star right
there needs a Bible, so that’s where I’m going next.’
 
He smiled, and the warmth of his spirit radiated the sincerity of his mission.
I drove him back to the town-square where we’d met two hours earlier, and as
we drove, it started raining.  We parked and unloaded his things.
 
‘Would you sign my autograph book?’ he asked.. ‘I like to keep messages from
folks I meet.’
 
I wrote in his little book that his commitment to his calling had touched my
life.  I encouraged him to stay strong.  And I left him with a verse of
scripture from Jeremiah, ‘I know the plans I
have for you, declared the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you;
Plans to give you a future and a hope.’
 
‘Thanks, man,’ he said. ‘I know we just met and we’re really just strangers,
but I love you.’
 
I know,’ I said, ‘I love you, too.’ ‘The Lord is good!’
 
‘Yes, He is.. How long has it been since someone hugged you?’ I asked.

A long time,’ he replied.
 
And so on the busy street corner in the drizzling rain, my new friend and I
embraced, and I felt deep inside that I had been changed.. He put his things
on his back, smiled his winning smile and said, ‘See you in the New
Jerusalem.’
 
‘I’ll be there!’ was my reply.
       
He began his journey again.  He headed away with his sign dangling from his
bedroll and pack of Bibles.  He stopped, turned and said, ‘When you see
something that makes you think of me, will you pray for me?’
 
‘You bet,’ I shouted back, ‘God bless.’
 
‘God bless.’ And that was the last I saw of him.
 
Late that evening as I left my office, the wind blew strong.. The cold front
had settled hard upon the town.  I bundled up and hurried to my car.. As I sat
back and reached for the emergency brake,
I saw them…. a pair of well-worn brown work gloves neatly laid over the
length of the handle.  I picked them up and thought of my friend and wondered
if his hands would stay warm that night without
them.
 
Then I remembered his words:  ‘If you see something that makes you think of
me, will you pray
for me?’
 
Today his gloves lie on my desk in my office.. They help me to see the world
and its people in a new way, and they help me remember those two hours with my
unique friend and to pray for his
ministry. ‘See you in the New Jerusalem,’ he said.  Yes, Daniel, I know I
will….
 
‘I shall pass this way but once.  Therefore, any good that I can do or any
kindness that I can show, let me do it now, for I shall not pass this way
again.’
 
Prayer is one of the best gifts we receive.  There is no cost but a lot of
rewards.  Let’s continue to pray for one another.. God bless and have a nice
day!
 
‘Father, I ask you to bless my friends, relatives and e-mail buddies reading
this right now.  Show them a new revelation of your love and power.  Holy
Spirit, I ask you to minister to their spirit at this very moment.  Where
there is pain, give them your peace and mercy.  Where there is self-doubt,
release a renewed confidence through your grace, In Jesus’ precious Name,
Amen.’

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