Sunday, March 7, 2010
Carl and the Cross
God knows me inside and out. He knows that every once in awhile I need to see that He actually exists. He usually does it through a homeless person.
I met Carl two years ago. He has a crippled arm and hand. Not long after I met Carl he walked up to me on a Sunday morning and said, "Mike, God asked me to tell you that He loves you." He then took off a cross that was hanging around his neck and gave it to me. Later that day, I hung the cross on the rear view mirror of my truck. Just a few weeks later Carl vanished. He was gone. Whenever I got in my truck I would see the cross and remember Carl the homeless guy.
Last Friday night we opened the homeless cold weather shelter at First United Methodist Church in Port Orange, FL. Guess who got off the bus and walked into the shelter? It was Carl. He walked in and gave me a big hug. He told me over and over again how great it was to see me. Carl sat down and ate dinner with the rest of our homeless guests.
While our homeless guests are eating dinner I typically walk around the tables and ask if anyone needs anything. A homeless man I had never seen before stopped me and asked a question. "Sir, do you have a cross? I'd really like to wear a cross." I said, "Let me check on that." All I could think about was the cross hanging from the rear view mirror of my truck. I walked over to Carl and said, "A man just asked me for a cross. The only cross I have is the one you gave me almost two years ago. It's in my truck. Would it be okay with you if I gave it to him?" Carl looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, "I can't believe you still have that cross. Yes, it would be okay if you gave it to someone else."
I went out to the truck, grabbed the cross and walked back into the shelter. Before I gave away the cross I handed it to Carl. With tears in his eyes, he held it and bowed his head. Before I gave it away I asked Carl to hold the cross while I took his picture (see photo above). Carl gave the cross to me and I handed it to the man who asked for it.
Why did a man who gave me a cross almost two years earlier show up at a shelter the same night when someone else asked for a cross? It gave me an opportunity to share something amazing about God with Carl the homeless guy as I was leaving the shelter.
I held Carl's crippled hand and looked into his eyes. I said, "Carl did you see what God did tonight? In living color, He showed you and I that He is real. God also showed us that no matter who we are, where we live or where we don't live, He can use us to pass his love along to others." Carl didn't say anything thing. He just hugged me and then he hugged me some more. Then he hugged me again.
I'll never forget Carl and the cross.