Yesterday, I was sitting in my living room, working on a quilt, when the doorbell rang. You know, when you are expecting someone to visit, you almost always know it will be them at your front door. However, when I opened the door to a stranger, my surprise must have shown on my face (unfortunately, what I am thinking almost always registers on my face). Looking at the man, I took in his unkempt appearance, and I'm sure he could see my reaction clearly.
However, when I said, "Yes?" he replied, "Ma'am, I'm not a salesman, well, actually, I guess I am. I am trying to sell these candle holders so I can buy my children some gifts for Christmas."
I looked then at the contents of his hands. He was holding two of the ugliest Christmas decorations I have ever laid my eyes on. To describe them: they were two sections of wood about eight inches in length, that had been cut from the kind of timbers one puts around flower beds. You know, the kind that is flat on two sides and rounded on the other two sides. A hole had been cut about an inch and a half into the center of the wood. The hole held a small candle, and the one side of the wood had a painted with tempera paint decoration.
He then proceeded to tell me that he couldn't find work, and that he was a convict and wanted to buy his children some presents and was selling those decorative candle holders for ten dollars each.
While he was talking, I noticed he had a tattoo on one of his arms that said "Rattlers". He was wearing a white tee shirt and wrinkled blue jeans. He also had one of those badges that attaches to the wearer's clothing that stated his name and that he had a permit from the city of Bedford (where I live) to sell his goods.
We talked about the tragedies that had taken place recently and (I was the one who brought them up, not he) I told him I would take both of the things he was selling, and asked him to wait right there. He was still outside the house, of course.
Within a minute or so, I was back with twenty dollars and handed it to him. His response was a hearty thank you, and then he said, "ma'am, are you sure you can afford this?" I said, "Yes". Then he said, "Last chance to change your mind, ma'am." I think he believed I really couldn't afford it, because I was wearing my old red dress that has seen better days.
I assured him that I wanted him to have it, and told him I would be praying for him and his family. He thanked me again, and said he was glad I would be praying for him. I sent him off with a "God bless you."
After he left, I had many thoughts about him, wondering about his situation. Did I do the right thing? I don't know...All I know is that perhaps I had a visit from Jesus seeking help. I couldn't turn him away.