This is a true story!
One Christmas night many years ago, I was driving our old station wagon in the pouring rain. Among my seven kids in the car, 10 yr old daughter Lisa was very excited. For years she had begged us for an umbrella of her very own. “I want a big sturdy one, Mom, like you and Dad have”, and that day, in the rain, we finally got her the umbrella she had always wanted!
We passed a homeless man on the other side of the street – no hat, no raincoat, soaking wet. I couldn’t find it in my heart to keep going.
“Oh that poor guy!” I exclaimed, “We have to do something.”
I stopped at the next light and began fumbling in my purse to see if I had anything I could give him. All I could find was an old inspirational tract that said, “God – I’ve made a mess of my life – can you help?”
As I turned the car around, and drove closer, I prayed silently,
“God – please help me! Give me the right words to say!”
Then I saw the fellow. He was a young man, probably in his early twenties, but looking more like a 50 year old, stooped over, rain dripping from head to toe.
As we approached the corner, I rolled down the window and stuck out the tract,and said, “I wish I had something more to give you. I can’t believe you’re out here in this weather! You should go to one of the churches down the street. They can help you!”
He cocked his head and said, “They can?”
“Of course,” I answered. “That’s what they’re there for!” His eyes brightened up as he said, “Thank you.” Then I heard my daughter’s voice from the back seat. “Mom – give him this” and she handed me her treasured umbrella! He thanked us heartily, and we wished him a ‘Merry Christmas’ as we drove off. We prayed for him that night and I thought it was the end of the story…
Months later, I was driving again down the same street, right by the church I had told the young man about. I spotted him, raking leaves and talking to the preacher outside. He was dressed in better clothes, and looked healthier. ‘Wow! He really did it!’, I thought.
Later that year I found myself Christmas shopping – again in the pouring rain. Looking for a parking spot amid the hustle and bustle of people, I saw one of the employees. He looked vaguely familiar. As I searched my memory, I suddenly realized it was the same young man I had seen those few Decembers ago! As he helped a customer into their car in the rain, he had a big smile on his face while holding a large, sturdy umbrella over them.
Wow. A sudden rush of astonishment came over me. Could an umbrella and a heart of compassion from a 10 year old have made a difference in his life? What if we hadn’t stopped that day in the rain? I’m so thankful I didn’t turn away. It sure made me happy to be a part of the story!