I don’t know if it’s a coincidence or not, in fact, it might be several coincidences. But that’s up to you to figure out. My job is to tell the story.
It happened just this way.
I met him at the shelter next door to the church. His name is Joe and I liked him right away. I liked him right away, even though he kept interrupting me when I was trying to lead 9:00 devotions. They were good interruptions, the engaged, inquiring type. We talked about the radical nature of Jesus and how we don’t seem to be able to accept real love and lovers in this world.
Afterwards we talked a little, he’s a bright guy.
By 10:00 I was on to the next thing.
At 11:30, I was at the church, which is just next door to the shelter. There is a meal there most days.
We gather in, I pray a little, then it’s lunch for 150 or so. Joe was there, we talked a little, mostly silly stuff.
I hung around with the lunch crowd until about noon, and then went up two flights of steps to the clothes closet that we run at the church.
We take donated clothes, give them some love and organization and then folks can come in and get some nice clothes for free in a hopefully dignified way.
Around 12:30, Joe lumbered up the steps. He was winded and needed to sit down for a minute. I asked Derrick, who works with the men’s clothes, to see if he could help Joe out. Derrick found him a coat that he liked. Joe stayed in the chair.
I asked Joe if he needed anything else.
“ I need an XL hoody, it’s really cold out” Joe said. I wasn’t sure if he was saying that he was sleeping outside or not. I generally don’t ask, as it’s none of my business. It’s also undignified.
Derrick came back and reported that we didn’t have any Xl hoodies, to which Joe replied that he needed one because it’s really cold out.
I told him we don’t have one.
Joe thought a minute and then told me that I should really pray that he gets an XL hoody, because of the cold and all.
When someone asks me to pray for something, I do, right there and right then. I asked Joe to stand up, we held hands in the midst of the chaos of people looking for clothes, and I prayed.
“ Lord, Joe here needs an Xl hoody, and you know why.”
“It’s really cold out,” Joe added.
“ So Lord, as we have none here at the moment I pray that very soon someone will donate just what Joe needs, and we can get it to him.
Also Lord, I ask for some patience for Joe, so that he can wait and trust until we find something for him. Amen.”
Joe added, “ I can be patient, but I’d sure like one today. Amen.”
I was smiling when I walked away.
Looking at my phone I saw that I had a voicemail. It was from about an hour earlier. A pleasant sounding lady said that she was going to bring some clothes right over, no need to call back if it was Ok.
I went to the back door to see if anything had been dropped off.
I was met by an older woman that had already brought a few bags and boxes and set them on a table. She said her husband was getting the last one.
I grabbed a box to take it into the sorting area. On the top of the pile was a gray hoody. I set the box down to check the size. It was XL.
Of course it was.
I put the hoody across my arm and went out to get some more of the clothes. The husband was there with the last of it. We chatted a little, I thanked him.
Then I said to him, “ You have to hear this.”
I told him about Joe, and the need for an XL hoody, and the prayers, and Joe’s impatience. I told him about finding the gray hoody right on top of the pile. We both laughed, and then a serious look came over him.
He paused before saying, “That was my gray hoody. I’ve had it for two years and only worn it once. I was going through my clothes an hour or so ago and I just thought to myself that I ought to give that hoody away, someone probably needs it more than I do.”
No other words were needed between us.
I’ve told this story a few times in the last few days. People either say,”What a blessing,” or “ What a coincidence.”
I tell them that is for them to decide, I’m just telling the story.
Oh, by the way, at about 1:30 I walked back to the shelter, hoping to find Joe. He was there.
I walked up to him and handed him the hoody and said. “ One hoody, XL.”
Joe looked at me, smiled broadly, and said. “It’s about time.”
We both laughed.