Andrew (not his real name - not even the "real name" he gave me) showed up on Sunday morning as I was about to go over to church.
He needed some gas money, but assured me that he would come back Tuesday and work to earn it. I gave him some money, never in a million years expecting that I'd see him again, (at least until he needed more money).
But Tuesday he showed up, dressed in work clothes, and with chores in mind - trimming shrubs, cleaning up the vacant lot, washing windows and wood work. He started to work. But soon he needed a tool, a trash can, more directions . . . It started to rain and he went inside to work.
Did I have a squirt bottle?
Paper towels? Not those paper towels - the others are better for windows.
Lunch time came.
Could I fix you a ham sandwich?
No. Not ham. Do you have any eggs?
You can fix me three eggs.
OK. I'll hard boil them.
Not too hard, OK? And don't put salt in the water. That makes them tough, you know that, right?
Get the idea? It was like that old story, "Stone Soup". Soon he had me bringing over a tray of eggs (cooked just right - no salt), a tomato, boiled potatoes (which he told me later were not quite boiled long enough), sauteed squash and hot tea.
He stayed the night in his old, beat up van, parked in the vacant lot. The next morning, for breakfast I offered oatmeal.
Do you have any raisins? Loose raisins? They're not in the oatmeal packet? And some cantaloupe?
As I made my fourth trip back and forth to church, bringing what he needed, Tim (who had bought him a wind up flashlight and offered him a shower at our house, the old softie) just smiled at me.
It's sort of ironic, isn't it? he said. You want to see Jesus in the face of the poor and the stranger. But what you don't realize at first is that Jesus is always a demanding guest.