I wasn’t meant to go to that station on that day. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t even need to leave home but I had to. As I crossed the road, I heard a voice so deep, yet so desperate. Desperate for someone to give him the light of day. I couldn’t hear what he was saying, but whatever he was saying, he was talking to me. I looked at the woman a couple of feet away from him and she looked right back at me. As if to say “don’t look at me, he’s talking to you.” So I took out an earphone and stepped out of my world and reluctantly stepped in to his. He had one Big Issue magazine, but he wasn’t like the rest, he only had one. One left. His last hope. He was using it as a badge. Not a badge of honour, but to show where he stood in society. He wasn’t in the magazine, but his story changed my life.
He wasn’t always like this you see. He made sure that I knew that. I needed to know that. He knew that I needed to know that. It was as if as he spoke, he was speaking to himself and I was him. Fifteen days ago, he was just like me. Carefree. But his granny died. He used to live with her, but when she died he was evicted. His name wasn’t on the lease. Homeless due to a technicality. A grieving man, all alone. In the city that many die to reach. The irony. We were one mile away from the Golden Mile. A city full of opportunities, yet many are denied the chance. He lost his granny then he lost his home. What kind of God would allow this to happen?
He had to resort to sleeping in a bike shed. As we went in to the café, he asked for his usual. How can he have a usual? A beggar with a usual? Something must be wrong! But, you’re forgetting that fifteen days ago, he was just like you and me. He was able to do and eat whatever he wanted. No cares in the world.
The cashier told him that there aren’t many people like me. But there are. I might just be the only one that he has met. But when I titled this post ‘A Divine Encounter,’ I wasn’t talking about myself, I was talking about him. He probably changed my life more than he could imagine. I’ve given to the poor before, but I’ve never really stopped to speak to them. Stopped and taken the time to just get to know them. You see, if it wasn’t for that encounter, I would not have realised that I was talking to myself. I am just one change away from being him. Fifteen days before our encounter, we both had no cares in the world, but after my encounter with him, I seemed to have all of the cares in the world.
He forced me to put things in to perspective. He forced me to distinguish between my wants and needs. Money is a crazy thing. Once you spend it, you never get it back. But one thing that I have realised is that accumulating money is nothing. You can have a nice car, nice house, nice phone and be able to buy anything without hesitation but still never please God. You could also have nothing materially and still not please God. Material things mean nothing to God. What matters to Him is what we do. You see, I don’t want to work for charity to hear people say, “ahh wow, look how selfless she is.” Especially because for me, that decision is completely selfish. I want to help people get out of poverty because that will help me and make me feel fulfilled. It’s just a job.
My prayer isn’t to be prosperous, my prayer is that if I ever am, that I won’t ever forget those who aren’t. Riches without compassion is poverty.
When I crossed the road to get to the station that day, I could never have imagined that I would have a divine encounter. This encounter was divine because it reminded me of the Word of God. When He said:
“ For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me (Matthew 25: 35-40).’
What the cashier didn’t know is that, I wasn’t just being nice, I was just being obedient. I never saw him again but I will never forget him. He reminded me the importance of remaining humble. Nothing that I have is mine. Our prayer shouldn’t be to simply ask God to bless the poor, but for Him to equip us to help them. I believe that God does want Christians to prosper, but not for our own benefit but for His. A prosperous Christian has all the tools to help a suffering person. They can help the person to come out of both spiritual and material poverty. When we pray the Daily Bread and say “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven,’ we often forget that it is possible to see His Kingdom here on earth. We are the vessels that He wants to use to make it happen. May we never get tired of doing His work.
You see, when I thought what kind of God would allow such things to happen to Him, I was forgetting that it was the same God that put me in the position to help Him.