God came cold on Valentines Sunday to the Preacher’s church. The sister found him curled up in the February frost in front of the doors to the sanctuary-he’d been there all night. She called the Preacher and the Preacher called the Gardener, and we looked at each other and knew…”Old Smoke.”
The Gardener hurried to shower and dress turning to me with his hand on the door his steel blue eyes pierced me with their intentionality.
“We have to be very careful with this. I’m telling you, this is a gift from God today, and how we handle this is going to make all the difference…you know?”
I smiled and lowered my eyes, “oh, I know, it is more than just a homeless man on the steps of our church…this is GOD, I’ll be right behind you! ” The Gardener smiled and nodded and raced off the mountain into the valley to be there to care for God in disguise. Like Abraham rushed to attend the mysterious guests on that dusty afternoon where the fate of a city hung in the balance, we found ourselves rushing to be present to the need of love that left itself at our doors. Several times I had to let my foot off the accelerator as I traveled the windy gravel road to town.
“Why am I speeding?” I mumbled to myself with a shake of the head as I crested the hill that overlooks the valley and began my decent. As I gazed at the spring mist filling the valley floor, and pondered my need to rush to church, the presence of love filled my truck and a tender voice whispered to my heart-
“Because, love compels.”
I wept. This is what it feels like? This is what love does to you when you know who you are really serving, giving, caring for? This is what it feels like to have your feet racing to do good? Love compels the heart to give all it has, all the time, in every situation. Love compels the extra mile, the only cloak, the humble turning of the smitten cheek. Love compels the cross.
I threw the truck in park and rushed into the sanctuary only to find The Sister weeping gently in quiet attendance to the man sleeping in the chair. She had offered him a cup of coffee and a roll, wrapped him in her soft blanket and set him next to the fireplace, where he promptly fell asleep.
“This old man, was someone’s baby boy. I want to hold him, and tell him it is going to be ok. Is that crazy?” She choked out the whispered words, her hands trembling with compelling love.
“No, it’s not crazy” I whispered back through my own tears, “You see, this is God, this is our Valentine gift from Heaven. We get to love the least of these well today.”
We nodded, and wept and tucked him in a little closer to the fire, and waited to see what the congregation would think of God.