My son got married last week! What a joyous occasion! It was a beautiful ceremony, and it was a beautiful thing to watch my son. As he stood before me, I saw two people: my baby and a mature young man. He moved about the day with love, joy, kindness, calmness, and patience. I was impressed by his demeanor and impressed by his actions. The words that came out of his mouth were words of love and grace. As a mother, I was very proud of him.
Recently, I had an encounter with two other sons. I had a medical appointment in the city, and I tacked on some errands afterward. As I drove, I saw a homeless person sitting on a street corner and felt I needed to get him some groceries. I went to a nearby store and bought a few items; however, when I got back to the corner, he was gone. I drove around the area for a little while looking for him, but he was nowhere to be seen. I placed the bag of groceries on the front seat of my car—in case I encountered anyone else in need—and continued on with my errands. As I began to make my way out of the city and head toward home, I felt prompted in my spirit to stop at a particular fast-food restaurant. I decided I would order a cinnamon roll. A teenaged boy stepped forward to the counter to take my order. I asked how his day was going, and he told me he had been busy. He had just finished mopping the floors and was scurrying around taking and filling orders. For some reason, my cinnamon roll was quite delayed. I stood waiting for about ten minutes. As I waited, I observed this same young man doing task after task: helping at the front counter, helping his coworkers with filling drive-thru orders, taking orders outside to customers in the parking lot, etc. He moved quickly. I imagined this was how things were for my own son, a few years older, working at another fast-food restaurant. I was impressed at this young man’s diligence and demeanor. I determined that when he finally brought me my food, he was going to hear some words of encouragement from my lips. As I continued to wait, a woman in regular clothes walked behind the counter and began talking with the employees. She was still there when the young man brought my order to me. I asked if I could speak with him for a moment. I proceeded to tell him what a great job he was doing and how impressed I was. At that moment, the woman spoke up and said, “That’s what a manager likes to hear.” Once I realized who she was, I proceeded to fill her in on how this young man had behaved. I imagined his parents would be proud of him.
I then proceeded out to my car and messaged my husband that I was now beginning my twenty-five-minute drive home. As I backed out of my parking spot, a man entered the dimly lit parking lot. I observed him looking around on the ground as if he had lost something. I drove up next to him and asked what he was looking for. He said he was looking for money and then asked if I could spare fifty cents. I told him city regulations did not permit me to hand him money, but I had a bag of groceries I could give him if he desired. He accepted the groceries, thanked me, and continued wandering in the parking lot as I drove away. My heart couldn’t stand it. I turned my car around and went back to the restaurant. I parked and got out of my car, calling out to the man. He approached me, and I offered to buy him some dinner. I estimate he was about thirty years old, but his current appearance caused him to look much older. He was filthy and disheveled. He was hungry. He was homeless. I thought about my safety for a moment. I thought about my husband awaiting my return home. I thought about what this man needed. I pulled out a pen and paper and wrote down the details of his order: a special-order burger, a cinnamon roll, and a flavored coffee. I went back into the restaurant and was waited on by the same young man from earlier. As he took my order, he apologized for how long he had kept me waiting when I had come in earlier for the cinnamon roll! He quickly filled my order, and I headed back out into the parking lot where the homeless man continued to wander around, looking for coins on the ground. I gave him his meal and spent a few minutes talking with him. He told me that people who came through the parking lot usually were not very nice to him. I told him that God cared about him and had arranged for me to meet him that night. I told him that I don’t even live in that city. I told him the story about why I had the bag of groceries I had given him. He was surprised by that. I then asked if I could pray for him about anything. He said he wanted his mom to know he loved her. We said our goodbyes and parted ways.
As I drove home, I thought about the two sons and their mothers: how proud one must be and how the other one must be missing her son terribly. The first young man reminded me of my son. I realized the second young man could have been my son. My heart was proud and broken at the same time.
People go through their daily lives looking different on the outside, experiencing different things on the inside, yet they are all in need of the same things: love, hope, kindness, respect, and an introduction to the Savior of the world. How do we treat these people? Do we favor some over others? At that restaurant, both of those men were valuable, created by the hand of God; and yet, both get treated poorly. Customers are sometimes not nice to the employees who are doing the best they can to wait on them. People are sometimes not nice to the homeless. But these sons have value because of the Son. God fashioned each person and sent His only Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for all. How do we treat this Son? Do we love Him in return, or do we scorn Him, turning our backs on Him? Do we fully give our hearts and lives to Him, or do we keep them for ourselves? We were created for a relationship with Him. We have the option and opportunity to pursue that course for our lives. And when we give our lives to the Son of God, we can then be a channel of His love, being faithful to all God has appointed us to do.
Love the Son, and love the sons.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,
and love your neighbor as yourself.1
1 From Luke 10:27
Scripture taken from the New King James Version of the Holy Bible, ©1982 by Thomas Nelson.
©Text and photo Francee Strain, November 14, 2021