Monday, April 30, 2007

I Saw Jesus At The Taco Bell

I have to share this story. Yesterday after a needed day at church my wife and I decided to stop at the Taco Bell on the way home for a bite to eat. While there, right in front of us was this little old, in his mid to late 60’s I assume, not well dressed in of overalls, white medium length messed up hair, white untrimmed beard, not very well kept with holes in his pockets but an infectious smile and a gleam in his eye.

I know that eavesdropping is not a good thing; I also know that sometimes one can hardly help it. That was the case yesterday as this elderly man stood in front of me talking away to a younger man beside him, I assume in his mid twenties. Now this man had had very close cropped hair, and was a big boy, larger than me in fact and his clothes obviously didn’t fit. They were in fact almost falling off of him as he constantly had to pull up his tattered blue jeans so that his dirty white t-shirt would keep the top of his underwear showing from the back side. This man barely nodded and on occasion said a word or two to the interesting conversation that was going 200 miles a minute in every direction that you can imagine when it comes to the area of religion.

Here is what I suppose to be the case. The younger of the men somehow came into contact with the older of the two. The older decided as a point of ministry he was going to take this younger man out. I know they weren’t related or didn’t know each other as they each asked each others names every few moments. I will say the older man only had to ask a second time and he had the names down. It was obvious this older man was on a mission. He was on a mission in more ways than one.

I was amazed at all of the directions this conversation was going in the area of religion. It was as if the old man knew this may be the only time he ever had the chance to share his faith with this younger man. I decided, as intrigued as I was, to stay out of the conversation, and listen away. I know again, I shouldn’t have been eavesdropping.

As the two men were standing in line, I saw the old man ask the younger man what he wanted to eat as they got to the cashier to place their older. “Oh I don’t have any money.” The young man stated. It was then that I could tell the sincerity of the older man. He pulled out an old tattered wallet that was bound together with a rubber band. “I have money, you order what you want.” At this time, I noticed the old man had money all right, but not enough to buy him and the young man complete meals.

The young man stated that all he wanted was a extra large soft drink, I think it was a Mountain Dew. The old man ordered that for the young man, and ordered himself a ½ pound bean burrito, at a cost of 99 cents, and a glass of water. To me it was obvious he didn’t order the drink or any thing else because he just didn’t have the money but was offering what he could.

The two got their food and went to sit down. It was then that we ordered our food. I had a coupon for buy a burrito supreme get one free, and wife and son both ordered a combo. I also ordered a cheesy tot potato for 99 cents and a glass of water. I got my food first, that way my wife and I could use two coupons instead of one, we are thrifty you know. As soon as I got my seat, I did something I don’t normally do,. I went and got our seat and left my wife and son at the counter. I wanted to make sure that I got the seat right next to the couple who had been in front of me.

I have to be honest, I was so impressed with the obvious mission this old man was on. He was sharing and loving rapid fire, one way right after the other, from talking about the book of Revelation to specific teachings on Christ to be humble, to serve, to care etc… Every now and then he would be countered by the young man who thought he knew some things about the Bible. It was a marvel though to watch the young man respond to such things as how he, (the young man) knew for example that the Anti Christ was in prison in Atlanta awaiting release so he could begin his journey to take over the world. He went on about other sorts of things, but the old man kept preaching, (not really preaching but yes preaching) about salvation, about God’s love, about God’s mercy, and yes, about how Christ provided salvation from Hell. He kept on and kept on giving love not just in providing a meal, but keeping that infectious smile and that wonderful glare to his eyes.

As I sat there, I have to be honest, I was moved. I was moved not only in this mans passion to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with someone but in his willingness to put what little money he had where his mouth was. He wasn’t only showing the man spiritual love here, but he had obviously gone out of his way to show the man physical love. He wasn’t condemning, he wasn’t rude, he wasn’t obnoxious, he was simply sharing a straightforward Biblical message that had as its focus, its roots, its intent Jesus Christ. Again, I marveled.

We stayed at the booth at Taco Bell longer than usual. I was impressed with this little old man carrying out his mission and purpose in life in such an effective way. As we got done, I realized I had a burrito left and my wife had two tacos. She said something to my son about going to ask for a carry out bag from the clerk. I responded to her, Mary Jane, wait a second. I then grabbed the left over food and asked the two gentlemen sitting next to me. “Excuse me gentlemen. I have extra food and I am really full and can’t touch it. It hasn’t been opened or taken out of its wrapper, would you like to have it? A smile came over the two men’s faces. The younger of the two, said, “Yea thank you, I’ll put it in my pocket and eat it later,” as he quickly grabbed the burrito and placed it in his pocket. Then the old man paid me in a way that blessed me more than he could ever imagine. He simply looked up and stated, first to the young man, “See how good God is.” Then he looked up at me and said, “Sir thank you so much, God bless you.” I will tell you, a “God bless you”: from a man or woman living out their faith like this is worth more than anyone can imagine. I have gone some 24 hours now since this event happened and it is still fresh in my mind as to the way and the passion this little old man shared his faith, and shared his love.

I guess my question for the day is how do we love? How do we share Jesus with others? My hope and prayer is that I can someday be like that little old man. I hope in other ways, I already am.

Matthew 25: 31-46

(31) When the Son of Man comes in his glory with all of his angels, he will sit on his royal throne. (32) The people of all nations will be brought before him, and he will separate them, as shepherds separate their sheep from their goats.

(33) He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. (34) Then the king will say to those on his right, "My father has blessed you! Come and receive the kingdom that was prepared for you before the world was created. (35) When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat, and when I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink. When I was a stranger, you welcomed me, (36) and when I was naked, you gave me clothes to wear. When I was sick, you took care of me, and when I was in jail, you visited me."

(37) Then the ones who pleased the Lord will ask, "When did we give you something to eat or drink? (38 ) When did we welcome you as a stranger or give you clothes to wear (39) or visit you while you were sick or in jail?"

(40) The king will answer, "Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me."

(41) Then the king will say to those on his left, "Get away from me! You are under God's curse. Go into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels! (42) I was hungry, but you did not give me anything to eat, and I was thirsty, but you did not give me anything to drink. (43) I was a stranger, but you did not welcome me, and I was naked, but you did not give me any clothes to wear. I was sick and in jail, but you did not take care of me."

(44) Then the people will ask, "Lord, when did we fail to help you when you were hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in jail?"

(45) The king will say to them, "Whenever you failed to help any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you failed to do it for me."

(46) Then Jesus said, "Those people will be punished forever. But the ones who pleased God will have eternal life."

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