Some stories I just don’t tell, and I really struggle with telling this one.
The whole secret-agent-for-Jesus-network, started with a blog called The Agent B Files, and always was intended to honor Jesus’ directive in Matthew 6:3-4. It is intended to be a way of sharing God’s work without taking personal credit for it. However, there is no doubt plenty of people know my identity on the one hand, and telling the story is not keeping it secret on the other. Despite measures taken to mute my identity, this ministry is designed to aid God’s people to imagine the world differently and to bear God’s image in it largely through portrayal of caring for the poor.
Without exhausting all of the caveats and concerns, I was soooooooo deeply blessed to eat lunch with Jesus today in the Popeye’s fast-food joint down on 82nd and University, that I feel compelled to tell you about it. I should say that earlier this morning, my wife (Mrs. Agent X) and I made a trip to Walmart up on 82nd and Milwaukee. As we pulled onto the lot, we saw a man holding a “hungry…homeless” sign as we drove by. By the time we parked, I could see a Walmart employee walking out to the far part of the lot toward the beggar. I followed after him to see how this would go.
I will not reveal my part in that exchange at this time, but I will say that it was obvious Walmart did not want that man there, and by the time I returned to Mrs. Agent X, we were both considering the option of taking this man home with us. However, he got away and that did not happen. But a half hour later, I was running a final errand for Mrs. Agent X when I bumped into a second homeless guy – on 82nd Street no less!
His name was *Agent H* and he looked like a cross between Rambo and Charlie Manson – (more Charlie than Rambo). He hobbled, more than walked, and used a walking stick. I saw him as I waited my turn to get an oil change in my wife’s vehicle, and then found him at the 7/11 across the street shortly afterward, just as he was about to dive a dumpster.
I don’t know his age, but based on things he told me during lunch, I would guess him between 55 and 65, but looking like 75. He was a bent figure, looked very fragile and unsteady. I pulled up by the dumpster and invited him to join me for lunch.
He got in the front seat with great difficulty and mumbled his words so that I could hardly make out a sentence he said. I had a rough one on the line. Very rough. As soon as he got in, I went to plan B – “Would you like me to take you to a doctor?” I asked. He shook off the suggestion. I decided not to force it.
In my experience on the streets, I find that some people cannot eat the same food(s) I would. Bad teeth, you see (not to mention every now and then someone is diabetic or so on) AND sometimes I try to take care not to upset their diet. So I asked where he would like to go. He didn’t care. So we went back across the street to Popeye’s which was very handy.
I should say that I happened to be wearing my neon Fat Beggars shirt with the message “JESUS WAS HOMELESS” emblazoned across the back of it. I showed up like a street minister on parade, and Agent H looked like the picture next to the definition of homeless in the dictionary. I’ll just say:
WE GOT NOTICED!
Yeah. We were on display in that restaurant. Though neither Agent H nor I made mention of it, there was no denying it. We paraded Lubbock’s elephant-in-the-room right into that eating establishment – and did it right during the lunch hour! We were breaking a social taboo, and it was powerful! We did not encounter any resistance from anyone there at all, but after my experience at Walmart less than an hour before, I sensed (and I figure Agent H did too) that my wallet was his ticket to lunch. I mean, Agent H really looked the part! I can easily imagine he might not be welcome in a lot of places even if he had his own money.
I directed Agent H to step up to the counter and order what ever he wanted from the menu, I would pay. He very humbly mumbled inaudibly. I asked him to repeat it. He mumbled some more. Then the lady behind the counter asked him to step closer so she could hear him. Then she began making suggestions that he nodded to, because I don’t think she ever heard him at all.
I on the other hand finally made out the words “Dr. Pepper”! Good Agent H! I hear you!!!
I just have to use my imagination. I don’t know really. Possibly the man is just a con and owns a mansion at the edge of town! If so, I am his chump. And really, WHO CARES??? But I lean more the other way. I bet he really likes Dr. Pepper, and it might have been a while since he was able to get one.
We took a seat. I took off my hat. Agent H took off his hat. He spoke a little, but I really could only make out isolated words here an there. I just could not hear him even across the table. But I studied his features. His unkempt hair and weathered skin. His clothes. His walking stick and bag.
Then they called our number. I went to retrieve the food.
When I returned, Agent H asked if we could pray and thank God for the meal! I agreed and bowed my head. Agent H blessed the lunch. Then we began eating. I listened to him mumble and could barely make out a word here and there.
After a few minutes, I saw a drip form on the tip of his nose. I thought he might be sick, and I feared his nose drippings might manage to get into his food – AND THEN I WORRIED IF IT MIGHT GET ACROSS THE TABLE INTO MINE! I kept watching it closely to beware of it. And then I saw more clearly, the man mumbling softly – so softly that I could not understand him – was weeping. And then suddenly a clear coherent sentence presented itself to my ears and to my eyes.
He said: THE JOY OF THE LORD IS MY STRENGTH!!!
Suddenly I recognized that I was in the presence of a real prophet! Jesus was eating lunch with me. I could have taken my shoes off in that restaurant! I was on Holy Ground! This man was praising God and thanking him for his blessing all through lunch!
We spent more than half an hour there. I really did not want lunch to end. His speech cleared up little by little as we ate. He preached at least two sermons for me that I could make out – and one of them was particularly good.
“We are spiritual,” he said. “Adam and Eve in the garden were created spiritual and if they had chosen to live as spiritual creation, this world would be a different kind of place!”
Amen! Agent H! Preach it, brutha!!!
I was getting more and more into his sermon(s), trying hard to listen. I leaned in close. I concentrated, and for a few minutes, I don’t think we were really in Popeye’s restaurant. I think we entered a whole other dimension of reality. We slipped through the veil for a minute, and I only got back to Popeye’s when a fellow patron and his friend got up to leave. The friend was dumping the trash when his partner approached us and laid a $10 bill on the table in front of Agent H and said, “I think you need this more than I do.”
Thank you! sir – who ever you are!!! I praise God for your kind generosity! If you find this blog and this post, I hope you will say hi to us – anonymously of course! You really blessed us, and everyone in that restaurant who witnessed it! Agent H thanks you. So does Jesus.
I could go on and tell a hundred other observations and so forth, but this post would get too long. So I will jump to the end of it.
When Agent H decided he was ready to leave, and after much weeping and preaching and praising, I noticed his speech was greatly improved, his posture improved, and he walked a lot stronger too. I should note that he never complained. He never lamented. He did confess sin at one point, but he mostly praised God and cried a lot while he ate. And so as we said our goodbyes on the parking lot, I hugged him, and I noticed that he did not stink at all! And I asked him to remember me when we get to the Judgment because Jesus will ask him about me. And he assured me that we would meet again there!
Just before he disappeared, I snapped a photo of him on the curb from a distance.
I think if you look carefully and concentrate, you see Jesus in this picture.
Funny. It almost seemed like I was there feeding a bum in that restaurant. Almost. For just a moment… almost. But really, he fed me.
Thank You, Jesus!