During the late night of a complicated day I found myself looking for a calm place to rest; rest my mind, rest my feet, rest my heart. I decided to stop at a usual spot for a bite to eat.
In walked a man down on his luck; gripped by the ways of this world he was in pretty bad shape. He reeked of a terrible odor, limping along in such pain, I could only wonder about his story.
Looking at me with a joyful smile he came toward me to say hello; a kind gesture for a man who seemed to be in need. Was it from a genuine place, or was he just great at hiding the pain, hoping for love to be returned? He left after the brief introduction, struggling down the stairs with the same limp that he started out with. I departed shortly after.
Noticing the favorable breeze, I decided to take a stroll, enjoying the night air as I walked the long way back to my car. Breathing deeply and looking at the pavement as I paced forward, a figure in a large white shirt caught my eye. Standing at the corner was my new friend from the restaurant, my brother—Will.
Giving him a short wave as I began to walk by, he stopped me to ask a question. Hesitant to voice his request, he then changed his mind and mumbled, “never mind, you can’t help me.” Aware of the push and pull game he was playing, I decided to bite, “what do you need?” I asked. What’s a little money anyway, was my thought. But money wasn’t his true need. Attracted by my calm demeanor, a heart ruled by the peace of Christ, he asked to walk with me. Showing love by offering a sympathetic ear and a bit of time was something I was happy to do.
I spent time with my brother Will, walking the cool summer night streets before we decided to have a seat on the cramped steps of an empty restaurant. A couple of hours rolled by as I listened to him. He shared his life’s story with me; his ups and downs, his triumphs and challenges. Will also shared with me his talent for rhyming. He could actually rap, who knew! He even shared his faith with me, making room for our conversation to blossom. I knew drugs played their part, but what ultimately led him to this point of despair was still unclear to me. But by now I saw his need, I saw his heart. I wanted to encourage him and fan the flames of hope.
My brother was only thirty nine years old; so much life to live, so much more to give, if only he believed it. Before I left my friend that night, I uttered hopeful words like, “you’re not done yet,” letting him know his journey was far from over. If we have breath we still have something to do. Elated he looked at me with the eyes of a six year old on Christmas morning, as if he’d never heard those words before. “You really think so?” he whispered in amazement. Then he asked if I would pray for him.
Our moment in time together ended even better than it started. After a hug from my brother we went our separate ways. Will turned around and in a proud voice shouted out from across the street that he loved me. I too was blessed by the encounter. Grateful for the lesson, I really do understand that it’s more of a blessing to give than to receive.
God was with us. And I did pray for my brother Will that night. I believe he was delivered at that exact moment. I often think, how many other Wills’ are out there? I pray for them all. I pray that whoever reads this will be encouraged to have his or her very own “Will moment.” I pray that this gives us all a better understanding of what love does.
—Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2 NIV)