Meeting Daniel - Part 1.
I marvel at the way God orchestrates our lives, our encounters, our growth. The following describes a totally unexpected encounter with a homeless man named Daniel back on June 10, 2013, about 8 months after my husband passed away at the age of 49. I mention that only to note that growth, stretching, maturity seemed to occur in my life exponentially after David's diagnosis with end stage cancer.
Ashley and I were eating lunch today in the food court of the Brandon Mall when Ashley points out to me, mom, there's a homeless man over there behind you reading his Bible. Automatic reaction turned my head around to look, and it was then that I felt God specifically nudge me with the directive, go over to him, make sure he has a meal and see if he needs prayer. I immediately knew it was the Holy Spirit speaking because approaching a homeless man in the mall while with my daughter was not something I myself would have thought of doing. But this day, I felt the strong prompting and somehow knew something big was about to go down. I turned my head back around to face Ashley and I must have had a very strange look on my face, because she then said.....What's wrong? You're not going over there are you? I replied that yes, I was, that I had to. I explained the urging I had received, said a brief prayer, grabbed all the cash out of my wallet and approached him.
Now I'm not saying I went without some trepidation, but the nudge was very clear and specific and obedience is obedience. I was sure in hindsight that I had been guilty of missing many opportunities of appointed encounter by being too busy, in a hurry, or just about any other excuse to keep from going out of my comfort zone when prompted, so off I went. Now I know that many people have their own conceptions about the homeless in our nation and giving them cash. I used to be one of them, but let me just say that I feel that I have a responsibility to be obedient to God's urging. I don't just hand out cash to each and every person I see with a sign on the corner, but when I do, I have been obedient. Whether the recipient uses that cash for what I intended is between him/her and God, but I was obedient and loving.....so that's my stance on that.
I approached, asked if I could join him a moment, sat down and started conversation by saying that I noticed he was reading God's word aloud. I told him how wonderful that was to see, and then asked if he had eaten today and needed prayer for anything. He replied that he had just eaten a sandwich and was enjoying some cool water and that no, nothing specific was needed for prayer. He then added that he reads God's word daily, sharing that it's where he draws his strength, from God. It was then that the conversation just blew wide open and he began telling me about his journey, and I then found myself opening up and telling him about mine. We shared stories of the goodness of our God, His growth of us both, His enormous blessings in our lives, the promise of our Salvation and the eternity we will spend with Him in Heaven. This man, named Daniel, was extremely well spoken, came from a broken home and was raised locally by his grandmother who introduced him to church at an early age. He currently receives disability for a physical injury, as well as a visible injury to one of his eyes, however, the check is not enough to afford him a place to live. He sleeps where he can and is trying to save to be able to afford something better. He was performing temp jobs for a while, temporary manual labor jobs, but the eye problem has forced him to quit that. He told me that during his temp jobs he would still witness to others and tell them of God's love for him and them no matter life's circumstances. He feels that God has protected him and provided for him daily....and he considers himself extremely blessed.
About that time, Ashley came over to join us and I introduced them. Daniel said that he could tell that although I recently lost my husband that I was extremely blessed with family such as Ashley, and by having the knowledge that God is my comforter, provider, and sustainer. Amazing how God orchestrates such events in that I went over thinking I was being used to bless this man, and I ended up receiving the much bigger blessing in my opinion. This man's kind eyes and jubilant smile will forever be etched in my mind as I offered him the money I had taken from my wallet. He was hesitant, but I insisted, telling him that meeting him was such a blessing to me and that this was what little I could do for him. At that moment I genuinely wished that I had had hundreds of dollars in my wallet, I would have gladly given it all to him. The perspective this brother in Christ offered to us was just amazing. I don't know if it can even translate through these words. I invited him to church, he asked for directions and was happy to hear that the Crossing (the church I was currently attending) was fairly close to where we were, as he would be able to walk there.
We shook hands again, and I told him how thankful I was to meet him today. He thanked me and thanked God for "angels" that God places in our paths. Oh, and somewhere in the middle of those parting words, Daniel spoke of prayers in common that we both share....prayers to God to bind up spirits of fear, doubt, and any other strongholds that hold us back from our potential in God. His testimony was amazing, and our short 20-30 minutes of conversation something I will never forget.
Ashley and I didn't get to finish our errands after our time with him, but that's ok, it's better than ok. I left the mall feeling that God was holding my hand and Daniel's too. God nudges us out of our comfort zones all the time, sometimes we listen and sometimes we don't. I have been guilty of that but am ever learning that He goes before us in all situations. He equips the unequipped, the blessings flow and the Glory is ALL HIS when we obey. It's all about perspective in our lives, and asking the Lord to change our hearts and see people, things, and circumstances through His eyes instead of our own broken ones. Ashley and I witnessed pure joy in the Lord today in a man whos belongings were gathered around us in plastic bags. Daniel knows who his Father is, and that is all he needs!
Praising God for His divine appointment today between Daniel and myself, and what an added bonus that Ashley was able to witness and share in this encounter. God is so good to us. He never gives up, never grows tired of pursuing us and teaching us even when we are less than stellar or quick-to-learn students. His patience is undeniable and His gentle reminders of who He is in our lives so timely for a woman and daughter trying to regroup and trust after having life turned upside down.
So that was my first encounter with Daniel, but it wouldn't be the last. I will share Part 2 with you soon. Thanks for having an interest and taking the time to read. God is amazing isn't He??!!