It was a bitterly cold night. I didn’t care. I’d had a really discouraging day and wanted to go for a long drive.
When I stopped at a streetlight in a nearby city, I saw a young man sitting on the corner. He didn’t have a sign seeking help. He just sat there.
“Are you hungry?” I asked, rolling down my window. “If I get you something, will you eat it?”
I asked him twice. This was a wide, three-lane street, but it was late and there was no traffic. He finally nodded.
Minutes later I returned with chili and a sandwich, but he was gone. That’s when I noticed an old man with a homeless sign on a different corner.
Had he been there before? I hadn’t seen him.
I turned into a gas station across from him, opened my car door, and set the bags out. Customers pumping fuel eyed me, confused. They hadn’t seen him.
But the old man knew what was what. Before I could call to him, he’d started across the street. I then closed my door and went on my way.
I hadn’t planned on doing anything for anybody that night, but the freezing weather moved me. A person willing to brave that cold must have been hungry.
As I drove away, the darkness inside me lifted, replaced with Light and happiness. I thought of being with my mom and feeding people like him.
Don't misunderstand me. I know this has been a terrible year and people have nothing to give. Even wealthy people, usually insulated from crisis, are beleaguered. They haven’t escaped the rampage of the virus. We all know someone who has been hospitalized or has died.
I’m not suggesting that you must add anything to the burden that you carry. Don’t add a random act of kindness just to get it done.
Instead, I am saying this - expect the Holy Spirit.
If you are afraid, or sad, or overwhelmed, God is with you. Expect the Spirit to lead you down a road to a moment in time that you need. I wasn't at the street corner for the old man. I was there for me.
I went for that long drive because I needed to be with God. I have decisions to make and they overwhelm me.
Scripture says, “The Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” Romans 8:26
It’s one of the most beautiful passages in Scripture.
Christmas comes this year to millions discouraged by the virus. We all face the unknown in this divided nation wounded by violence. It’s become an angry age.
What you may not realize is that Jesus was born into an angrier time. The political climate was far worse than what we’ve seen; Herod had lost power and upon his return, murdered countless people. He was bent on getting even.
That’s why no one in Jerusalem rejoiced when news arrived about Jesus, a new king:
“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.” Matthew 2:1-3
All of Jerusalem was upset; no one wanted more bloodshed. They didn’t understand what had happened.
It was Christmas!
God had decided to hand out the best gift a person can have. Jesus.
Returning home that cold night, I passed near the corner where I'd left the food. Remember the young man? The one sitting on the corner with no sign?
I spotted him again, surprisingly. He’d deliberately moved to a place nearly hidden from traffic. Clearly, he wanted to be left alone.
Perhaps what he needed was what I’d needed. To be with God.
We do not face the future alone. “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:26
However you celebrate Christmas this year, remember God’s gift to you. Jesus.
He is your comfort and strength.
You may contact Rev. Mathews at letters@RAMathews.com. (Only one “t” in Mathews) Copyright © 2020 R.A. Mathews. All rights reserved.
This article originally appeared on The Star: The gift you must have this Christmas
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