Yesterday I was eating dinner outside of Panda Express when a man approached me and the group of middle schoolers I was eating with. He seemed to avoid eye contact with any one person. As he skirted by he asked if any of us would be willing to buy him dinner or at least help him out with a couple of bucks. I stood up and said I'd be glad to buy him dinner. He thanked me with many thank you's and and God bless you's. His name is Michael. We talked a little while waiting in line at Panda Express. But he mostly avoided conversation. He said he was from Echo Park but was crashing on a friends couch for a few days. He politely asked if he could order a 3-item combo to which I replied, "Get whatever you want." So he did. 12 bucks later we parted ways.
A few things about the encounter stood out to me. First I was surprised by my immediate willingness to buy him dinner. I didn't know him. I couldn't tell if he was really broked or homeless. All I knew was that he was hungry. I guess Jesus was right about asking. Second, I found myself wondering if he actually was homeless or broke, or if he did this kind of thing on a regular basis. If he did, I hoped he could teach me his secrets to free meals. But then I thought to myself that it didn't matter. I didn't care about his situation. I took the moment for what it was. Third, I asked myself (not aloud by any means) if I should tell him about Jesus. How would I bring it up? I could say something like, "So...do you think Jesus would like orange chicken as much as the rest of us?" That seemed stupid. I had been trained as a teenager to share about Jesus with complete strangers, but now I was floundering. Sorry Troy (he was my youth pastor). Maybe I did share about Jesus with him in my willingness to help him out. He obviously already knew about God and that he likes to bless people.
Michael is a child of God just like me. If he is swindling people out of free meals God will deal with him. I hope his needs get met and that he knows how much God loves and values him. I'm thankful for Michael because he gave me an opportunity to be generous, and to put someone else's needs before my own. Michael, wherever you are, "Thank you and God bless you."
2 years ago