I found him … the man who begged for fifty cents!
See, earlier I had parked my car, waiting for the lanky gent to wobble between the cars. But instead, he tapped on my window, mouthing something at me.
Holding up my finger, like correcting a child, it was like I said, “Just a second.”
The man nodded, and stepped back.
So I climbed from the car and he lowered his head to speak. “I hate to bother you, but can you spare fifty cents?”
Glancing at the laundromat, I asked, “So are you washing clothes?”
He peeked over his shoulder. “Yes, I’m short.”
“So, you need some tokens?”
“Well, no ma’m. Not really.”
“I’ll be honest with you. I’m not doing laundry.”
“Then what will fifty cents get you?”
“It’s … it’s … for my …”
“What do you want to buy?”
He wrapped both his hands around the giant stick he was carrying. “I’ll be honest. I’m an alcoholic. And I need a drink.”
We were now walking, as I was headed to the store to buy some items for a once-homeless friend. At the door, I stopped, turning to him. “I’ll be honest with you. I would buy you lunch or some other things you might need, but I can’t buy you any beer.”
He smiled, “So you’re not gonna yell at me?”
“Why would I yell? I have my own problems, they just don’t show up in a parking lot beside someone’s car.”
“Thank you, at least, for talking to me. Most aren’t so nice.”
“You’re welcome. I do pray you give up the beer though.”
We parted ways and I grabbed my items inside the store, and grabbed a Christmas card, one that spoke of Christ’s birth. I planned to give it to my new friend—in the parking lot.
But once I made it outside, I couldn’t find him, even though I searched the area for quite a long time. Finally, I prayed, “Lord, help me find this man.”
This time, I circled the block of houses behind the store, and as I came to a stop sign, I saw him sitting on the porch holding up a giant glass of beer in a mug! Almost if to say, “Cheers!”
Stopping, I got out of the car, “What did you say?” I called to him from the street, and moved into his yard, clutching my card.
He ran inside, and came back with his shirt on, and announced, “I was showing you how I got my beer without your help.”
“I see you did. It’s a pretty big glass, too.”
He looked down at his drink, and back at me. “What are you doing here?”
“Well, I bought you this Christmas card, and I wrote some things about Christ inside. I wanted you to have it.”
He took the card, and held it to his chest. He sighed, “I do plan to stop drinking. It’s tough. So you got me a Christmas card?”
“I did. I wrote you some encouraging things inside.”
“I’m sorry for yelling at you and holding up my beer, like I won or something.”
“I suppose you know this, but you didn’t win. Not today. That beer won, and it’s got you trapped. I wish that weren’t true. So, can I pray for you?”
“Yes, please do. And like I said, I plan to stop.”
Beggar Becomes a Friend
After I prayed, he introduced himself, and asked my name, and gave a handshake from a place where ‘hope’ must live, because he made eye contact with me, and his countenance changed.
I smiled at him, and saw the most precious young man whose eyes were now gleaming, and he then prayed for me, with a wisp of words asking for the Lord to protect me.
I thanked him for the prayer, hopped inside my car and then whispered my own prayer to God, “Thank you, Lord, for sending me to a new friend. His name is Mike. And I suppose you know this, but he needs you.”
And yes, that’s the first Christmas card I’ve bought in a long time! Probably in years!