"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in." - Matthew 25:35
Last night, SD and I decided to walk down to our local coffee shop after dinner to get some work done (and take advantage of the "warmer" 20-something degree weather - ha).
We trudged through the snow drifts, reminiscing about the day. We were almost to the coffee shop when we saw a woman crouched down in the snow up ahead. "Did she fall?" SD asked. I made out her shadow against the snow in the light of the street lamps and we watched her try to stand, falter, and fall.
"Can someone help me?" she said as we approached. "Yes," SD said. As we stepped into the dim light, I could see that she had been crying. SD grabbed one arm and I grabbed the other, helping her to her feet. She was a petite woman - about my height - and had curly dirty blonde hair. "I don't think I can make it through there," she said, gesturing to the slushy sidewalk behind us. "I take medication and I just can't-" she paused, clutching her gloveless hands. Two passers-by paused on their way and then skirted around us. We paused for a moment as we thought about what to do.
"Can you help me get to my apartment?" she tearfully asked. I hesitated and waited for SD to respond. I mean, we didn't know this woman - where was her apartment? Was this safe? SD said we came on foot and didn't have a car but we could walk with her.
"Sometimes God just puts people in your path," she said as we walked. She trailed off. "My name is Laura," she said and we introduced ourselves. She asked about where we were headed or where we had come from and we talked about the coffee shop. "Oh, that's a great place," she said. A moment later, we arrived at her apartment building. We helped her up the front steps. She hugged us and thanked us again. "You've got a good guy here," she said and I smiled. We watched from the street to make sure she made it inside and then turned to walk back.
We walked in silence for a little while. "I think that was one of those 'You helped me when I was a stranger' moments," I said quietly.
I regret that my first thought was that she had had too much to drink or had malicious intentions. It felt like a bit of an inconvenience - we only had so much time this evening and we were almost to the coffee shop. But I believe that Jesus comes to us as a stranger. He comes in what seems like inconvenient moments. He comes as someone in need. He comes in humility, crouched down in the snow. And I believe we're called to love, to serve, to help. Because we've all been strangers at some point:
"Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God; he, to rescue me from danger, interposed his precious blood."
- Robert Robinson, "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing"
Come, Lord Jesus, come.
Image Credit: Marion Post Wolcott