But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for He is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.” Luke 6:35
It was a dark and stormy night. Well, it really wasn’t but I’ve always wanted to begin a story that way. But for one man it was, and this is his story. Years ago, my son-in-law, Blake, and daughter, Sarah, were talking a walk on Church Street—a road that runs about a block behind where we live. It is just one of the many side streets in town but that night it was something more. As they walked, they noticed a man coming toward them. He was obviously having a tough time—like I said, it was a dark and stormy night—at least for this lonely man.
His head was low as he shuffled his feet and pushed his bike. As he got closer, when some people would have crossed to the other side of the street, Blake and Sarah took the time to greet the man. His eyes told the story. He was an Army veteran who had fallen on hard times. He told how he had been refused treatment at the Veteran’s Center. He shared how memories of a band of brothers who would have stood with him were fading fast. His uniform that night was dirty and tattered, but his shoes told the story.
Blake, looked down, and while there were shoes on his soiled feet, not much of what used to be remained. The shoes he had on were way too small but that didn’t matter for much of the toes were blown open. He told a little more of his story and each word made it clear that it wasn’t just a stormy day for this veteran…it was days, weeks, months, and years. It would have been easy for the young couple to listen and mumble some semblance of a “I’m sorry” or maybe a “God bless you.” But they didn’t—more specifically Blake didn’t.
As Blake was looking down at his feet—he saw his own. His feet were shod in one of his favorite pair of tennis shoes—in nearly new condition. And then something amazing, something very Jesus like, happened. Without a word, he reached down and began to untie his shoes. Then he slipped his shoes off and handed them to the tired, banged up veteran. I’m not sure what he said—maybe nothing. But perhaps the gift said it all. Perhaps the gift said better than any words could, “I care. I feel your pain.”
So, after the exchange they went their separate ways. He continued down the block and they finished their walk. I believe that both the tattered veteran and the young couple left different that night. Perhaps the man’s day was not quite as stormy as it was before his encounter with love. Perhaps he didn’t feel quite as hopeless—quite as alone. I know Blake and Sarah were changed. When they got back to our house after their walk, they shared their story. It wasn’t, a “hey, look what I did” but rather a “look what God did” kind of moment. We cried. Jesus encounters will do that to you.
As we take our walks in this thing called life, there will always be multiple opportunities to do the right thing, the extraordinary thing, the uncommon thing. Sometimes they will be disguised but often, they are in plain sight. A struggling single mom, a senior adult trying to manage one too many bags, a challenged adult or child who needs a smile and the list goes on and on. Jesus, the God-man, did plenty of amazing, brazen things during His life here. The part we know the most about only lasted just over 1,000 days. And in those days, He impacted His known world and in the days since then the entire world.
There used to be a saying that was tossed around in our everyday Jesus walk lives. It simply said, “W.W.J.D.” or “What would Jesus do?” It has long since been cast aside now but the truth of those four letters or four words still ring with power. What.Would.Jesus.Do? One thing is for sure. It would include a multitude of acts of kindness to the most unlikely of candidates and it would be done in the name of love. Jesus said, “Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for He is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.” What powerful words. What life changing words. The thought of doing this is counter-cultural and it might stretch you a bit but don’t worry— “He’s got this.”