Here is a lovely story that has circulated on Facebook for a while. Unfortunately it ends with a few questionable conclusions.
“Good morning!” said a woman as she walked up to the man sitting on the ground.
The man slowly looked up.
This was a woman clearly accustomed to the finer things of life. Her coat was new. She looked like she had never missed a meal in her life.
His first thought was that she wanted to make fun of him, like so many others had done before. “Leave me alone!” he growled. To his amazement, the woman continued to stand there, smiling — her even white teeth displayed in dazzling rows. “Are you hungry?” she asked.
“No,” he answered sarcastically. “I’ve just come from dining with the president. Now go away.”
The woman’s smile became even broader. Suddenly the man felt a gentle hand under his arm. “What are you doing, lady?” he asked angrily. “I said to leave me alone.”
Just then a policeman came up. “Is there any problem, ma’am?” he asked..
“No problem here, officer,” the woman answered. “I’m just trying to get this man to his feet. Will you help me?” The officer scratched his head. “That’s old Jack. He’s been a fixture around here for a couple of years. What do you want with him?” “See that cafeteria over there?” she asked. “I’m going to get him something to eat and get him out of the cold for awhile.”
“Are you crazy, lady?” the homeless man resisted. “I don’t want to go in there!” Then he felt strong hands grab his other arm and lift him up. “Let me go, officer. I didn’t do anything.” “This is a good deal for you, Jack,” the officer answered. “Don’t blow it.”
Finally, and with some difficulty, the woman and the police officer got Jack into the cafeteria and sat him at a table in a remote corner. It was the middle of the morning, so most of the breakfast crowd had already left and the lunch bunch had not yet arrived. The manager strode across the cafeteria and stood by the table. “What’s going on here, officer?” he asked. “What is all this, is this man in trouble?”
“This lady brought this man in here to be fed,” the policeman answered.
“Not in here!” the manager replied angrily. “Having a person like that here is bad for business.”
Old Jack smiled a toothless grin. “See, lady. I told you so. Now please let me go. I didn’t want to come here in the first place.”
The woman turned to the cafeteria manager and smiled. “Sir, are you familiar with Eddy and Associates, the banking firm down the street?” “Of course I am,” the manager answered impatiently. “They hold their weekly meetings in one of my banquet rooms.” “And do you make a good amount of money providing food at these weekly meetings?” “What business is that of yours?”
“I, sir, am Penelope Eddy, president and CEO of that company.” “Oh.” The woman smiled again. “I thought that might make a difference.” She glanced at the cop who was busy stifling a giggle. “Would you like to join us in a cup of coffee and a meal, officer?” “No thanks, ma’am,” the officer replied. “I’m on duty.” “Then, perhaps, a cup of coffee to go?” “Yes, ma’am. That would be very nice.”
The cafeteria manager turned on his heel, “I’ll get your coffee for you right away, officer.” The officer watched him walk away. “You certainly put him in his place” he said. “That was not my intent. Believe it or not, I have a reason for all this.”
She sat down at the table across from her amazed dinner guest. She stared at him intently. “Jack, do you remember me?”
Old Jack searched her face with his old, rheumy eyes. “I think so — I mean you do look familiar.” “I’m a little older perhaps,” she said. “Maybe I’ve even filled out more than in my younger days when you worked here, and I came through that very door, cold and hungry.”
“Ma’am?” the officer said questioningly. He couldn’t believe that such a magnificently turned out woman could ever have been hungry.
“I was just out of college,” the woman began. “I had come to the city looking for a job, but I couldn’t find anything. Finally I was down to my last few cents and had been kicked out of my apartment. I walked the streets for days. It was February and I was cold and nearly starving. I saw this place and walked in on the off chance that I could get something to eat.”
Jack lit up with a smile. “Now I remember,” he said. “I was behind the serving counter. You came up and asked me if you could work for something to eat. I said that it was against company policy.”
“I know,” the woman continued. “Then you made me the biggest roast beef sandwich that I had ever seen, gave me a cup of coffee, and told me to go over to a corner table and enjoy it. I was afraid that you would get into trouble. Then, when I looked over and saw you put the price of my food in the cash register, I knew then that everything would be all right.”
“So you started your own business?” Old Jack said.
“I got a job that very afternoon. I worked my way up. Eventually I started my own business that, with the help of God, prospered.” She opened her purse and pulled out a business card. “When you are finished here, I want you to pay a visit to a Mr. Lyons. He’s the personnel director of my company. I’ll go talk to him now and I’m certain he’ll find something for you to do around the office.” She smiled. “I think he might even find the funds to give you a little advance so that you can buy some clothes and get a place to live until you get on your feet. If you ever need anything, my door is always open to you.”
There were tears in the old man’s eyes. “How can I ever thank you?” he said.
“Don’t thank me,” the woman answered. “To God goes the glory. Thank Jesus, He led me to you.”
Outside the cafeteria, the officer and the woman paused at the entrance before going their separate ways.
“Thank you for all your help, officer,” she said.
“On the contrary, Ms. Eddy,” he answered. “Thank you. I saw a miracle today, something that I will never forget. And thank you for the coffee.”
God is going to shift things around for you today and let things work in your favor. If you believe, send it. If you don’t believe, delete it.
God closes doors no man can open & God opens doors no man can close. If you need God to open some doors for you, send this on.
So much for the story. I am sure these sorts of things happen when people are motivated by gratitude and the love of Jesus. One even hears of non-Christians doing kind things like this, out of gratitude or simple human compassion.
But the conclusion, “God is going to shift things around for you today and let things work in your favor,” is very questionable, and it can lead to disappointment when people do acts of kindness, and as is very likely and is borne out by lots of experience, things do not start to work in their favor, if things do not turn around for them today.
As followers of Jesus we are called to act with compassion and kindness without expecting anything in return. We are called to do unto others as we would have them do unto us, not so that they will do likewise to us.
History is full of accounts of saintly people, well known for their kindness to those around them, only to end up in prison or die a horrible death, Jesus himself being a prime example of this.
Yes, we are promised a reward, but it may not be, most likely will not be, today or even in this life. Rather, we follow Christ and live out His commandment to love our neighbors in gratitude for His salvation, and in the hope that one day — probably not today — He will say to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
And forwarding stories like this one on social media is not a magic “Open, Sesane!“ charm which will make God open doors for us. This sounds way too much like the chain letters of my childhood in the 1960s.