Like a teddy bear on a courthouse awning

One stage I had as a kid was throwing my favorite Beanie Baby off a high place for my mom to catch down below. We played this game without problems . . until one day I got over ambitious. For a reason I don’t remember, we were at the courthouse. I was standing on the porch of the courthouse, a couple stories above my mom.

I threw Sniffy (my Beanie Baby) down to her, only she didn’t catch him. She couldn’t catch him. He landed on an awning.

My mom and I were so busted for playing this kind of game. She thought about what to do, then told me she was going back in the courthouse to get help. I waited up top, where I could see the whole thing unfold.

Fortunately, she came out with a maintenance worker and not a judge. The worker had long broom. He jostled the awning with the broom. With each bump, my Beanie Baby got closer to the edge. At last, he fell off. Mom picked him up, and he was safe once more.

Did you ever feel like you were a Beanie Baby on a courthouse awning? Worse, did you ever feel like God put you there, and you had no idea why He did?

I had this kind of uncomfortable experience this past year. My husband and I were casually stopping at a store to get caffeinated jelly beans (very helpful for waking up in the morning). I saw a man, probably homeless, with no good coat on, walking out in the rain.

I was already feeling uneasy. I did not want to get involved in this.

But God was feeling a different kind of unease, and He kept working on my heart.

At last, I gave in, and said something like, “Okay, God, if he’s still standing where I can see him when we come out of the store, I’ll . . have Ben offer him his coat.”

I sort of acted like I was “appeasing the gods”, rather than talking to my very personal Friend up in Heaven.

Not too surprising to me, when we left the shop with our caffeinated jelly beans, he was still there. I’d seen him go in and come out of a store, and I figured he was asking for money.

Ok. God wasn’t going to let me go on this one.

“Ben,” I said, “I think God wants us to help this man. Could you go offer him your coat?”

Ben is amazing in his faith. He agreed, got out of the car, and left.

That coat was expensive, but it was old. We could replace it. No big deal. Ben needed a new coat anyway.

Ben came back still wearing his coat. And with someone I did not expect to be seeing again. He came back with the stranger!

“He’s needing to get home,” Ben explained.

I was aghast. So he was needing to get home? How was this our problem? What happened to my plan of simply giving him a coat and leaving him out there in the rain and cold?

Before I could say “all I wanted was caffeinated jelly beans”, the man was in the backseat of our car. And, I began to hear his story.

He was grateful, very grateful, for the ride. He had just been released from the hospital, and found out he had no transportation back to his home. His friend he lived with worked at a Wal-mart up on the north side of our town (the other side from where we were) and he asked for us to take him there, where he could wait. He’d been going in and out of stores asking for taxi money.

I marveled at this. This man had just gotten out of the hospital, and here he was out in the cold, walking without proper clothes?

I heard God loud and clear: What if this was you?

I was still freaked out, but I was flooded with a desire to take this man to the Wal-Mart where he needed to go. And, after all, was it really any big deal?

But then I felt God prompting me again. Oh no. Not God again. (Have you ever thought this? Would you admit to it? Here I am, admitting to it!!)

“Ben,” I whispered as he drove, “I think we need to buy him lunch.”

Ben immediately agreed. We stopped at Chik-fil-A and got him a value meal. He was enormously thankful.

But then came the biggest hurtle of all. We were almost to the Wal-Mart, we were on the north side of town, everything seemed to be going smoothly, and I heard from God again.

I want you to buy him Andy’s.

WHAT?? Andy’s is a very popular frozen custard chain in our city. There was one right before we got to Wal-Mart.

Well, this was ridiculous, I rationalized. I was like Sniffy on that awning. What was God thinking?? I mean, this wasn’t logical. A man needs to get to shelter out of the rain, yes. A man needs to eat, yet. But does a man need frozen custard? Really, God?

But God wouldn’t let me off. So, finally, finally, I made a lukewarm agreement with God.

Okay, God. If we get stopped at this stoplight, I’ll tell Ben.

Guess what?

We got stopped at that stoplight.

“Ben,” I said, on edge and nervous and embarrassed. “I think we should buy him Andy’s.”

Ben is remarkable. He just simply stopped at Andy’s, and we bought him a treat, I think it was a large vanilla milkshake.

We dropped the man off at Wal-Mart. Ben walked in with him. He found out the man needed like 6 or 8 dollars for his prescription from the hospital. I wasn’t the only one whose heart was being reached by God. Ben went to the ATM and got him the money.

Sometimes, sometimes we feel like teddy bears on awnings where we are certainly not supposed to be.

And sometimes God uses us most while we’re there.

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