God moves us at times by nudges to our subconscious. He did that to me today. I went to the local burger place for some lunch. While I was eating, I kept hearing, “When you finish your lunch, go to — (a clothing store).” I kept hearing this inner nudge, so I acted on it. Near the door was a homeless man. I got hung up on the mirrors between my car and the one I parked next to. A man named Mike laughed, and we struck up a conversation. He asked for money.
“I can’t give you money, but I’ll be glad to buy you a meal. Do you like hamburgers? I just ate at that burger joint.” I pointed toward the restaurant.
“A lady bought me McDonald’s yesterday and she gave me a gift card. Can I have a hot dog?”
“Sure. Let’s go get you your hot dog.”
We started walking.
“Can I have two hot dogs?”
“Yes, and fries if you want them, and a drink, and ice cream.”
“I don’t want no ice cream. It’s too cold fer that.”
“I understand,” I said, and then I wondered if I really understood the bone-chilling cold this man faced every Winter.
I stepped inside the burger joint. Mike hovered at the door.
“It’s okay. Come with me.”
“Okay, but I’s gonna eat outside.”
As is the case many times with a homeless person, they are so used to being shamed they often will not enter a building. Mike entered and cautiously looked around. He was probably wondering if he would get kicked out.
The server was puzzled, “Back again? Did you decide to get ice cream?”
“My friend is hungry. Mike, tell the lady what you want.”
“I wants a hot dog.”
“Make that two please…” I added.
Mike was modest with his order. To drink, he asked only for a cup of water without ice. He didn’t order fries because he had chips in his backpack that were “not too old to eat.” The entire order cost less than five dollars.
While we were waiting for the food, I got to work. I knew for sure this was an assignment from above so I tuned myself into the still small voice within, knowing my sweet Lord Jesus would guide our conversation by His Holy Spirit speaking into my spirit.
We talked about Mike’s former employment as a painter. But, that had been fifteen years prior. He had been unable to get disability. He had applied several times but had been repeatedly turned down.
“Mike, perhaps you haven’t been able to get disability because you can do something.”
“That’s what they says, too.”
“I can’t climb ladders no more.”
“There is a way to get unstuck, but only if you want to. Do you want to? Be honest, now.”
“So, what’s stopping you from trying something new?”
“Do you want to give up drinking? I can get you help if you are willing. Be honest, because I only want truth. I care about you so tell it to me straight.”
By this time, Mike’s hot dogs had arrived. He could’ve fled, but he didn’t. Instead, he dropped his head like he was wondering if I was a safe sounding board. He dropped his hands open on to the bar top. I gently touched his wrist. He grasped my hand, and with sincerity that melted my heart, Mike spoke the truth.
“Alls I got is my drinking. Some days it’s lonely, an a good drink takes the edge off. Lotsa days, it’s cold ‘specially when the winds a knockin’ at ye collar like it was last night. If I takes to the bottle, I don’t feel it as bad. So, I don’t want to give up my booze. We’s friends, that bottle an’ I. We’s old friends.”
“Would you believe me if I told you God sent me to let you know you can have a new beginning?”
“Is ye talkin’ bout Him? I likes Him, see?” Mike rolled up his sleeve and revealed a cross tattoo.
“Yes. Jesus has a good plan for you. And He is just the man to help you get unstuck. God says, ‘For I know the plans I have for you … to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV) When was the last time you visited Him at church?”
“I walk past a church from where I sleep in the woods. I wanted to go in. But…”
“I don’t think they wants the likes of me.” Mike glanced at his attire.
I could sense his quandary. He could go to the house of God in worn clothes while he watched church members show up in their Sunday best. He knew he’d be the oddball.
“Then ye shall call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.” Isaiah 29:12
There it was again rearing its ugly head — a creature named, “Shame” had browbeaten this gentle man once too often. I was ready to act.
I knew exactly why I was there. The same Spirit who had nudged me to drop by the store was also prompting Mike to attend a certain church. My guess was there was a preacher being prompted to deliver a sermon Mike needed to hear. I was pretty certain congregants would sense urges to welcome this gentle soul into their fold. God was converging forces, in an attempt to rescue a soul who had wandered for over fifteen years.God was converging forces, in an attempt to rescue a soul who had wandered for over fifteen years. - Diane Virginia Click To Tweet
“Listen to me, okay? You go to that church and you hold your head high. God loves you just as much as He loves the preacher at the pulpit. He loves you just as much as the people who attend. You are welcome there. And none of them are perfect so you don’t have to be perfect to attend. They are most likely waiting for you to visit. So, this Sunday, don’t just walk past the church. Go up to the doors and step inside. Even if you’ve been drinking, go in any way. When you go inside, listen to the message, because I’m sure the pastor has written it just for you.”
Mike’s countenance lifted somewhat.
“Do you believe me?”
“I think so… I hope so.”
“Hold onto that hope.”
I knew Mike would answer my next question as candidly as he answered the others.
“Mike, will you go back to that church this Sunday?”
“Can I pray with you for God to help you discover His good plan for your life? Because I think your new beginning will start when you walk through those church doors.”
“And ye shall seek me, and ye shall find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the LORD.” Isaiah 29:13
Mike nodded, removed his cap, and grasped my hands before I asked him to. I felt the cold of his skin and the slenderness of his fingers clinging to my hands, as if holding mine tightly would make his world straighten. I prayed then thanked Mike for allowing me to share part of his day. I hoped that because he relied on the generosity of others to provide meals, this also afforded him numerous opportunities to hear about how deep and wide the love of God truly is… Mike’s new beginning would start when he chose to hold tightly to his Savior’s nail-scarred hands.
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Lord Jesus, help me help those who’ve lost their way, to discover the good plan You have for them. Help me to not be too busy to respond to Your Spirit nudges, and to accept Your heavenly assignments.
Copyright © 2019: All rights reserved: VineWords Stories and Devotions Inspired by the Vine: Author Diane Virginia Cunio; Pen Name, Diane Virginia: Hot Dogs and Holy Spirit Nudges; www.vinewords.net
Diane Virginia (Cunio) is the author of The Kiss of Peace: An Intimate Exploration into Song of Solomon and Behind the Veil: Becoming the Bride of Song of Solomon (both books awaiting publication). She is passionate about sharing Beloved Jesus’ love for you, His Bride, as you are allegorically portrayed in Song of Solomon.
Diane has written for Christian Broadcast Network, Pentecostal Publishing House, The Secret Place, and other ministries. Hobbies include reading, homesteading, horseback riding, ponding, and making Scripture-inspired jewelry.
To schedule Diane as a speaker, please contact her via her website: Stories and Devotions Inspired by the Vine. You may find her on Facebook or contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.