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Will Work For Food

On our way to watch the holiday fireworks, we decided to stop at the local Speedway for some sandwiches to accompany our strawberries and chips…somewhat of a last-minute picnic idea. I liked the idea of enjoying a late snack while watching the sky ignite with bright colors, underlined with the still, reflective lake underneath, safe on our blanket in the grass. We have so much to celebrate: the most obvious being this wonderful country whose birthday we were observing that day. Thoughts of appreciation for my loved ones with whom I was about to enjoy the evening picnic filled me with warmth and excitement. How blessed am I to have such a supportive family in this beautiful land of the free.

As we pulled up to the gas station, we saw a scruffy older man holding a sign saying, “Will work for food.” Living in a big city, my first reaction is always filled with skepticism since so many people pose as beggars, just looking for free handouts. After all, begging does bring in a few hundred dollars a day sometimes. What great pay for just standing around asking for money!! However, upon closer examination, I saw this man was old and he did not have the physique to labor the way some of the con artists do. This poor man seriously was willing to work, even though his body was old and frail. Furthermore, he was not asking for handouts. He wanted to work…he wanted to earn his food honestly. Not only that, he was wanting food. Not money, just food. I began to wonder how long it might have been since his last meal. . .

When asked if he might like a sandwich, he didn’t seem to respond at first. When asked again if he’d like anything from inside, the old man mumbled “hot dog.” That was it. I couldn’t believe that’s what he really wanted. A hot dog?! How unfilling, unsatisfying, and cheap. But nonetheless, we went inside, bought him two hot dogs, a large gallon of water in hopes it might last a while in this dreadful summer heat, and a Hershey’s bar.

When we came back out, we gave him the food we bought for him and he only took it and muttered something about not wanting to touch us. Personally, I would not have been offended by the grime on his bony hands or the smell of the summer sweat, but he seemed self-conscious of his appearance.

I only interacted with him for a few moments, and I wonder what impact I might have made in that short amount of time. I may never meet him again, but he certainly has made an impact on me. I got to thinking about how sad it is that this world is so full of corruption and deceit…and because of that I hesitate to help people holding up signs for help. Many of them are indeed cons, but others are genuinely seeking the loving hand of a fellow human being who will stop long enough to lend them aid. How many people die of starvation because we turn a blind eye? How many do not have anyone to cherish or call “loved ones” the way I had been thinking of mine just moments before I met him?

I believe that everything happens for a reason, whether big or small. It was part of God’s will for me to meet that man this past Independence Day. Maybe it was to remind me that we are indeed ONE nation, and we should all work together in unity to survive. God has made and loves ALL people, and that includes those whom we overlook and despise. For that man, there was no family to watch fireworks with, no picnic to enjoy, no compassion to be found. I pray for him, and those like him, that God would open the eyes of those who have been blessed with much to share their gifts with those who have been given very little.

Thank you God for this nation, my family, and for my freedom, and for meeting all my daily needs. May I never become so preoccupied with my own blessings that I fail to see that you have given me more so I can share with the less fortunate. Open my heart to be generous and compassionate, and help us all to see that we are all people whom You love and all citizens of one nation. Help us all work together and help each other as brothers and sisters of this beautiful land you have given us. Bless our nation. Amen.