Just a Coat

He came in with some of the dirtiest shoes I’d seen in a while. He was probably in his 50’s and was wearing large glasses that were scratched, very dated. It was cold, but not bitterly, and he wore a jacket, sweatshirt and jeans.

“Hello, sir. Have you been here before?” I asked.

“Um yeah. One time. I just need a coat. You got a coat?”

“Well, I need to find your name in our computer and then we will look to see what we have.”

He looked right at me. Glasses taking up his entire face and sure of what he wanted. “Just a coat. That’s all I need. It’s gonna get cold you know? I mean, it’s chilly today. It’s gonna get cold. I need a coat.”

At this point my heart begins to beat really hard. It’s God. When He needs for me to listen to Him and not to anyone else around He causes my heart to pound. It’s almost scary to me that someone might hear the pound, pound, pound as He begins to show me what I need to do.

In my mind it’s His still small voice,“ You have sweat shirts, you have socks, you have underwear and you have toiletries. Offer them. Look for a coat, but you KNOW you have these things. Offer them and give him a Bible.”

I began to ask, but wanted to be careful. He was a little embarrassed and he doesn’t want to ask for much. It’s people like this that I would bag up the entire store for because I know they are probably living on the street with very little.  Friends are helping me sort clothes and so I ask them to quietly start looking for things that might fit.

There’s a teenaged boy working in the back room. He’s out for Christmas break and wanted to volunteer. It’s his first day and I tell him that I need him to help me minister to a homeless man. He stares at me. I ask him to put together a bag of men’s toiletry items in a small bag and to quietly bring it back to me when it’s complete. He eagerly begins to fill a bag… deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush, soap.

Instead of shopping and looking for the items himself, the man sits down in a chair near the front of the store. He is tired and I don’t dare ask how far he’s walked to get to us. He doesn’t talk much and he keeps his eyes straight on the wall in front of him.

Sure enough… we have sweatshirts, we have toiletries and we have socks and underwear, but I can’t find a coat. I have the volunteers help put together the items that we do have and I begin to look everywhere. We have to have a coat. It was all he asked for.

I walk to the back room. We keep coats and a few extra items for times like this. I begin to look. There are sweatshirts that zip and coats that are for ladies and children. My heart drops. I don’t see a coat.

As I walk back into the store area I notice a jacket. It’s not thick or heavy, but it is something more than what he’s wearing. I take it to him.

“Sir? I don’t have a coat. However, I do have a few sweatshirts for several changes of clothes and I have this jacket. You can layer them.”

He smiles. “Oh, that’s fine! That’s fine! I am just so thankful for all that you’ve done. Look! I got a Bible. Thank you so much, ma’am. Thank you so much.”

As he walks out I have to gather myself. Sometimes it’s just too much. It’s hard to watch them leave knowing that they needed just ONE thing, and would not have taken one thing more, but you can’t always give it.

Thing is… it’s not too much for God. He sees every single one and He knows exactly what we need. Maybe the man needed the Bible, and God brought him there under the guise that it was something physical that he might need, but he left with the realization that God’s Word was the thing that would bring true satisfaction.


Patty Sumner said…
Melissa, that was beautifully written.. I could just picture in my mind the whole scene.. So glad you were able to help him. You are so right, so many times they do not realize what they think they need is just God's way to getting them to what they really need. Thanks for this post. Keep on helping others. Blessings!

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