Narrow Roads | June 2017

I don’t recall her name and her face is somewhat of a blur after so many years, but I don’t think I’ll ever forget what she did. It was a warm summer evening in Hempstead. We had just unloaded the van of food and drinks and neatly arranged the boxes and crates along the back of the building. The alley was filled with people standing in line, hoping to receive a hot meal and a bag of groceries. Our biggest concern; did we have enough hot meals? 

After sharing a brief message of encouragement and God’s love, we began to serve these needy ones. As I walked along the line, as I was accustomed to doing, I noticed a new face standing at the end. I stopped and said hello and she politely smiled and told me her name. This was her first time at the Tuesday night outreach and she was excited at the prospect of receiving a hot meal. She said she didn’t need the bag of food we offered because she had nowhere to cook or keep it. But she was very hungry and would greatly appreciate it if she could get a hot meal.  I told her it was going to be close as there were many more people there than we had expected, but we would try to make things stretch to meet everyone’s needs. As the evening wore on and the line dwindled, I kept a close eye on the number of unclaimed hot meals. It was going to be close, real close.

When we got down to the last 10 or 15 meals, I counted again and it was clear that my new friend would receive a hot meal that evening. I walked to the end of the line and told her the good news. Her eyes lit up and she thanked God for this small mercy. Just then, a disheveled looking man walked up and joined the line. I told him that we were tight on meals but that we would find something for him to eat, we never let anyone go away hungry. As things worked out, the young lady got the very last meal. She was so happy holding that plate in her hands. Apparently she hadn’t eaten a hot meal in some time. I smiled at her and said “well, looks like God heard your prayer because you got the very last one.” Just then, the man behind her asked “Isn’t there any hot meals left for me? I’m so hungry.” Without a moment’s hesitation, the young lady turned around and handed her meal to the man. He looked at her with such gratitude and she just smiled a gentle smile. “I think you’re hungrier than me.” she said. I was already thinking how I could solve this dilemma by purchasing some food at a local bodega, when the man asked me if I had another set of eating utensils. Sure I said, but there’s already a set in the bag with the meal. “Yes.” he replied, but if I’m going to share this meal with her, she needs a set too.” I handed him another knife and fork and the two of them sat on the curb and enjoyed that meal together. In fact, I’m willing to bet they enjoyed that meal more than any high priced fare at a fine restaurant because God was dining with them that night.

When asked by a young man; which of all the commandments is the greatest, Jesus replied to love God with all your heart, soul and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself.  Why did Jesus tie these two commands together?  Because God is love and we’re never more like God, more like what He designed us to be, than when we love another human being with an unconditional and selfless love. The kind of love those two strangers shared that evening sitting on a curb in an alley in Hempstead. The kind of love I was privileged to witness.

 

Were we one hot meal short that night?  No, I think we had exactly the number of meals God planned for us to have. I think He had every intention of being invited to dinner.

You think about that…

God Bless You and See You on the Road!

Bob Anton

Chaplain: Long Island Lights Chapter of the Christian Motorcyclists Association

For more information on CMA or questions or comments concerning this column, please contact Bob Anton at 631-897-8122 or baftmny@aol.com