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STORY OF DANIEL

It was an unusually cold day for the month of
May. Spring had
arrived
and
everything was alive with color. But a cold front
from the North
had
brought
winter's chill back to Indiana. I sat with two
friends in the
picture
window
of a quaint restaurant just off the corner of the
town square.
The food
and
the company were both especially good that day.

As we talked, my attention was drawn outside,
across the street.
There,
walking into town, was a man who appeared to be
carrying all his
worldly
goods on his back. He was carrying, a well-worn
sign that read,
"I will
work
for food." My heart sank. I brought him to the
attention of my
friends
and
noticed that others around us had stopped eating
to focus on him.
Heads
moved in a mixture of sadness and disbelief. We
continued with
our meal,
but
his image lingered in my mind. We finished our
meal and went our
separate
ways.



I had errands to do and quickly set out to
accomplish them. I
glanced
toward
the town square, looking somewhat halfheartedly
for the strange
visitor.
I
was fearful, knowing that seeing him again would
call some
response. I
drove
through town and saw nothing of him. I made some
purchases at a
store and
got back in my car. Deep within me, the Spirit of
God kept
speaking to
me:
"Don't go back to the office until you've at
least driven once
more
around
the square." And so, with some hesitancy, I
headed back into
town. As I
turned the square's third corner. I saw him. He
was standing on
the steps
of
the storefront church, going through his sack. I
stopped and
looked,
feeling
both compelled to speak to him, yet wanting to
drive on.



The empty parking space on the corner seemed to
be a sign from
God: an
invitation to park. I pulled in, got out and
approached the
town's newest
visitor.



"Looking for the pastor?" I asked.



"Not really," he replied, "just resting."



"Have you eaten today?"



"Oh, I ate something early this morning."



"Would you like to have lunch with me?"



"Do you have some work I could do for you?"



"No work," I replied. "I commute here to work
from the city, but
I would
like to take you to lunch."



"Sure," he replied with a smile.



As he began to gather his things. I asked some
surface questions.
"Where
you headed?"



"St. Louis."



"Where you from?"



"Oh, all over; mostly Florida."



"How long you been walking?"



"Fourteen years," was the reply.



I knew I had met someone unusual. We sat across
from each other
in the
same
restaurant I had left earlier. His face was
weathered slightly
beyond his
38
years. His eyes were dark yet clear, and

he spoke with an
eloquence and
articulation that was startling. He removed his
jacket to reveal
a bright
red T-shirt that said, "Jesus is The Never Ending
Story."



Then Daniel's story began to unfold. He had seen
rough times
early in
life.
He'd made some wrong choices and reaped the
consequences.
Fourteen years
earlier, while backpacking across the country, he
had stopped on
the
beach
in Daytona. He tried to hire on with some men who
were putting up
a large
tent and some equipment. A concert, he thought.
He was hired, but
the
tent
would not house a concert but revival services,
and in those
services he
saw
life more clearly.



He gave his life over to God. "Nothing's been the
same since," he
said,
"I
felt the Lord telling me to keep walking, and so
I did, some 14
years
now."



"Ever think of stopping?" I asked.



"Oh, once in a while, when it seems to get the
best of me.



But God has given me this calling. I give out
Bibles. That's
what's in my
sack. I work to buy food and Bibles, and I give
them out when His
Spirit
leads."



I sat amazed. My homeless friend was not
homeless. He was on a
mission
and
lived this way by choice. The question burned
inside for a moment
and
then
I
asked: "What's it like?"



"What?"



"To walk into a town carrying all your things on
your back and to
show
your
sign?"



"Oh, it was humiliating at first. People would
stare and make
comments.
Once
someone tossed a piece of half-eaten bread and
made a gesture
that
certainly
didn't make me feel welcome. But then it became
humbling to
realize that
God
was using me to touch lives and change people's
concepts of other
folks
like
me."



My concept was changing, too. We finished our
dessert and
gathered his
things. Just outside the door, he paused. He
turned to me and
said, "Come
ye
blessed of my Father and inherit the kingdom I've
prepared for
you. For
when
I was hungry you gave me food, when I was thirsty
you gave me
drink, a
stranger and you took me in."



I felt as if we were on holy ground. "Could you
use another
Bible?" I
asked.



He said he preferred a certain translation. It
traveled well and
was not
too
heavy. It was also his personal favorite. "I've
read through it
14
times,"
he said.



"I'm not sure we've got one of those, but let's
stop by our
church and
see."



I was able to find my new friend a Bible that
would do well, and
he
seemed
very grateful.



"Where you headed from here?"



"Well, I found this little map on the back of
this amusement park
coupon."



"Are you hoping to hire on there for awhile?"



"No, I just figure I should go there. I figure
someone under that
star
right
there needs a Bible, so that's where I'm going
next." He smiled,
and the
warmth of his spirit radiated the sincerity of
his mission. I
drove him
back
to the town square where we'd met two hours
earlier, and as we
drove, it
started raining. We parked and unloaded his
things.



"Would you sign my autograph book?" he asked. "I
like to keep
messages
from
folks I meet."



I wrote in his little book that his commitment to
his calling had
touched
my
life. I encouraged him to stay strong. And I
left him with a
verse of
scripture from Jeremiah, "I know the plans I have
for you,"
declared the
Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you.
Plans to give
you a
future
and a hope."



"Thanks, man," he said. "I know we just met and
we're really just strangers, but I love you."



"I know," I said, "I love you, too."



"The Lord is good."



"Yes, He is. How long has it been since someone
hugged you?" I
asked.



"A long time," he replied.



And so on the busy street corner in the drizzling
rain, my new
friend and
I
embraced, and I felt deep inside that I had been
changed.



He put his things on his back, smiled his winning
smile and said,
"See
you
in the New Jerusalem."



"I'll be there!" was my reply.



He began his journey again. He headed away with
his sign dangling
from
his
bedroll and pack of Bibles. He stopped, turned
and said, "When
you see
something that makes you think of me, will you
pray for me?"



"You bet," I shouted back, "God bless."



"God bless."



And that was the last I saw of him. Late that
evening as I left
my
office,
the wind blew strong. The cold front had settled
hard upon the
town. I
bundled up and hurried to my car. As I sat back
and reached for
the
emergency brake, I saw them... a pair of
well-worn brown work
gloves
neatly
laid over the length of the handle. I picked them
up and thought
of my
friend and wondered if his hands would stay warm
that night
without them.
I
remembered his words: "If you see something that
makes you think
of me,
will
you pray for me?"



Today his gloves lie on my desk in my office.
They help me to see
the
world
and its people in a new way, and they help me
remember those two
hours
with
my unique friend and to pray for his ministry.
"See you in the
New
Jerusalem," he said. Yes, Daniel, I know I
will...

If this story touched you, forward it to a
friend!

"I shall pass this way but once. Therefore, any
good that I can
do or
any
kindness that I can show, let me do it now, for I
shall not pass
this way
again."

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Copyright 2006 Joke A Whenever

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