Blessing at CiCi’s Pizza

Today in prayer, I asked for my Heavenly Father to cleanse me of my sinful nature, to forgive me, to take away my quick judgement of others, to help me specifically in listening to and obeying His will for my life.  I prayed for Him to empty my house and fill me up so that I could share His love the way He desires.

After church service, I asked my 9 year old where he would like to eat for lunch.  Since it was just going to be the two of us, I thought it would be a nice treat to let him decide.  Understand, I was prepared for my least favorite dining establishments to surface as his die-hard top choice.  Any of you out there with children or grandchildren, or even younger siblings, know where I’m going with this.  My idea of a yummy Sunday dinner does not include places where you can fill up your truck with diesel, buy that roll of paper towels you’ve been needing at home for 3 days and sit down to a dinner of chicken fried steak before picking up your dessert candy bar on the way to the check out register.  It also doesn’t include places with sticky tables, 74 flavors of pancake syrups and a row of “drop your quarter here to win” machines.  So when he said, ‘CiCi’s Pizza!”, I quickly agreed.  It might not be a restaurant in my top ten list, but it was in his, and a far better choice than some of the other places that share a position in that same list.  The fact that I only had $13 dollars in cash in my purse also made it easy to say “yes” to CiCi’s.

You might think that’s the blessing I’m getting to.  But it’s not.  I was, however, very thankful.

11:15am – we arrived.  I must say, if you’re going to CiCi’s on a Sunday after church, it’s good to get there early if you can.  We were the first patrons there, and it was a very different, wonderfully pleasant, experience than what I’ve had there before.  The floors and tables were all shiny and clean.  The food, all fresh and hot.  As a matter of fact, upon entrance, we were asked if we wanted any particular types of pizzas, because they would be happy to prepare them for us.  Customer service at it’s best!  We ate like royalty, selecting from a number of pizzas that seemed to be cooked “just for us”.  It was quiet.  It was peaceful.  Words I’ve never before used to describe this restaurant.  It had been years since I had last been there to eat, but I must confess now, I look forward to going back with the whole family one Sunday after church.

As we were finishing up, a homeless man walked in.  Well, I assumed he was homeless.  It didn’t take me a split second to judge him based on his clothing and the items he carried with him.  There I was judging – something I specifically prayed about an hour earlier.  I need to quit that. He wore a long-sleeved green shirt (it was 78 degrees outside!), a ragged straw hat, and carried a sleeping bag, several jackets, and a guitar with him.  I watched closely as he placed his things at a table diagonally across from us.  He seemed tired.  I looked at his face, searching for some sign of something opposite from what I was assuming him to be.  I didn’t see anything.  No smile.  His eyes were covered by the brim of his hat.  When he walked past me to get a plate of food, I was encouraged:

          Go talk to him.

What?  I know you don’t want me to talk to this man!

          Go talk to him. 

Father!  How can I go talk to him?  You know that’s not something I’m comfortable doing.

I continued to sit at my table, as my son voraciously plowed through his dessert rolls and brownies.  He was clueless as to the battle I was having.  I wondered, “Could that be the Holy Spirit nudging me?”.

          Go talk to him.

What would I say?  Father, how could I be a blessing to this man?  Look at him.  He’s wearing
his shirt inside out.  How do I know if he even speaks english?  What if he’s not a Christian?
How can I just go talk to him?

Another 5 minutes went by, with me trying to convince myself that I should not go talk to this man who clearly the Holy Spirit wanted me to engage with.

          Go talk to him.

Look, he doesn’t want any company.  See how he keeps his hat on, pulled down over his
forehead?  How do I know he’s not a serial killer?  I’m here with my young son, why should I
put us in potential jeopardy by talking to this stranger?  He is strange, Lord.  I mean, look
at him!  He’s not even taking his hat off at the table.  That’s so disrespectful.

At that very moment, the man removed his hat, and held it down in front of his face as he blessed the meal before him.

It was undeniable now – I was definitely being told to go to this man, and it was not an option for me not to do just that.  My Heavenly Father gave me a directive, and shot down my excuses when he allowed me to witness this.  LOUD AND CLEAR, I was given the command again.

          Go talk to him.

Okay, Father, I will.  But help me here.  What in the world can I do to be a blessing to this
man?  He’s already paid for his meal, because you do that when you come in, so I can’t buy his
food.  You know, Father, that I don’t have any cash to give him.  I just spent that last 13 dollars
in cash I have, plus the 5 cents I dug out of the bottom of my purse.  What am I supposed to do?

As I waited for directions, I watched as the man very carefully cut into his salad.  Was he as solemn as he appeared now, or was he lonely?  What was his story?  Why was he homeless?

You haven’t answered me, Father.  Oh, I got a pack of flower seeds today at church, and was
told to share them with someone and invite them to church.  You know, planting seeds.  Do
you want me to invite him to church?  Father, that seems silly.  Why would I give a homeless
man a pack of flower seeds?

No answer came.  No directives.  No clear instructions were offered on what I was to do or say to this man.  Nothing.  My son was enjoying far too much root beer.  We were beyond finished with our dinner.  It was time for me to obey, or time for us to leave.

Okay, Lord, I’m going.  I’m going.  I don’t know how I can bless this man, but I’m trusting you
to help me.

I told my son to stay at the table and that I would be right back.

Me:  Sir, do you mind if I join you for a minute?

The man:  No, no, just move my things over there and have a seat.

As the man looked up at me, I instantly saw his cleanliness.  His eyes, sparkly and blue, conveyed a warmth that I hadn’t seen beneath the brim of his hat earlier.  This man whom I had thought of as unkempt and dirty, now looked refreshed, well-groomed, and so kind.

Me:  I saw you when you came in, and I just wanted to tell you what a blessing seeing you has
been to me.  You are an apparent traveler, and you have a guitar.  I have a son who is a
traveler, and he carries his guitar, too.

The man:  (as he touched my hand) Praise the Lord!

As it turns out, Joe is indeed a traveler, but he is not homeless.  He left his home back in California in January of this year.  Joe is on a journey.  One he says has taken him years to begin.  Joe is 68 years old, and in obedience, is walking from “sea to shining sea”.  Yep!  He’s walking from California to our side of the country, and up the coast.  In doing so, he’s relying on God to direct his paths to people he can share the love of Christ with.

Joe and I only talked for a few minutes, but during that time, we shared as brother and sister, we prayed a prayer of thanksgiving, and encouraged each other to continue in our walks for Christ, no matter how difficult it may be at times.  And we delighted in the joy that comes from obedience.  My youngest son didn’t do as I had asked, and after seeing me engaging in conversation with Joe, came over to introduce himself.  It was a real gift to be able to share this experience with my son.

I prayed this morning for my Heavenly Father to cleanse me, to forgive me, to help where I am weak and to lead me in how to be obedient to His will for my life.

Praise God, My Father heard me, and he answered me!

All this time I didn’t understand how I could bless this “homeless man”…and as it turned out, Joe was to be a blessing for me.  I’m so happy I was obedient today, because when we are obedient, we don’t miss the blessings God has planned for us.  And, oh boy, does He have blessings lined up for us all!

2 Thessalonians 2:13

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5 responses to this post.

  1. You blessed me today. I will remember this story and the joy on your face next time I have an inner struggle with obedience. 😀

    Reply

  2. Posted by bmb on April 1, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    What a wonderful reminder that it is not in our strength that we are expected to do even the smallest of things! Thank you for who and Whose you are Sweet Friend!

    Reply

  3. I’m with Chrissy! You taught me such a lesson in obedience today with your own lesson! I love you for your willingness to be transparent with God shares with you.You are such a blessing to me, Sherry! I praise God for you and your family!

    Reply

  4. Posted by Pam Gaddy on June 4, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    Sherry, I just read this. You told a beautiful story! Very thought-provoking!

    Reply

  5. Posted by Pattie on June 20, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    Wow! What an interesting encounter you had at CiCi’s! Thank you for sharing such an awesome experience.

    Reply

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