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The Road to Reunion

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  • sossteve@worldnet.att.net
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ NOTES FROM THE VALLEY - February 11, 2000 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 8, 2000
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      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      NOTES FROM THE VALLEY - February 11, 2000

      "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of
      death, I will fear no evil for you are with me." Psalm 23.
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      TOPIC: THE ROAD TO REUNION

      I'm writing this while cruising at an altitude of 37,000 feet en route to Washington, D. C. I just finished reading a portion of Max Lucado's new book, "When Christ Comes." In it, Max quotes Paul in a letter to new believers, "You are our hope, our joy, and the crown we will take pride in when our Lord Jesus Christ comes." (1 Thessalonians 2:19) Max then conjectures about the realization of that verse. What will take place when a believer comes face-to-face with Jesus after He has returned. As I meditated on Max's words, the vision of that meeting became a very personal experience for me. I would like to express that vision to you in those terms. I do that in the hope that it will help you personalize it for yourselves as well. The vision and the promises are to ALL believers.

      In the vision, Jesus and I embrace and I am overcome by emotion. I just want to fall at His feet to worship and thank Him, but He grasps me by the shoulders and holds at arms length so He can look into my eyes while He speaks to me. As He talks, His face is aglow with a brilliant smile. All around us is this endless throng of people. I am dumbfounded when Jesus begins to tell me how proud He is of me, of the way I allowed Him to use my life as a witness to others, so He could bring them to salvation. He tells me that there are people with us in heaven who are there directly or indirectly because of things that I had done. He then informs me that those people would very much like to thank me, if it's okay. I nod my head "yes," too astonished to even utter a word.

      With a gesture of His hand, Jesus issues His invitation for them to come. From the throng, people emerge and step forward to embrace me. Some of them are people I never thought would make it into heaven. Each one explains how some word, or an act of kindness, or a helping hand had made them question the difference between their lives and mine. Why I could be like I was and they couldn't? And in seeking their answer to that question they found Jesus and were saved. Still others relate how a missionary or preacher I had supported with my finances had drawn them to Christ by their words and God's Word. There are neighbors, coworkers, friends and strangers. Tears flow freely as they share their stories and express their gratitude and I express my joy at seeing each of them. Each story adds to my amazement. Christ is there next to me, sharing in it all. I have no sense of how much time elapses or how many step forward to embrace me. It seems endless.

      Jesus suddenly leans closer to me and whispers, "And now the best part." The look on His face is one I can never forget. The joy and anticipation of one who loves me so much and is about to give me a gift so very precious that He has given everything to obtain it for me. He makes another gesture with His hand. The circle of saints surrounding us parts to reveal a new group approaching us. In the lead is my wife Cathy and she is followed by our children and many others. Cathy rushes into my arms and we just hold each other tightly, unwilling to let go. Christ embraces us both and His tears of joy mingle with ours. Michael, Jack, Chris and Jenny huddle around us and join in our embrace. They then introduce us to their children and their children's children. All those who had accepted their salvation as the result of the lessons we had taught our children about Jesus and they had passed on, down through all the generations until the day of Christ's coming. Generation after generation in seemingly endless ranks of precious saints.

      Even as I was trying to grasp the immensity of it all, the vision expanded far beyond what my mind could comprehend. My heart and my spirit where overwhelmed. (I'm sure the stewardesses were beginning to worry about the guy in seat 31H with the tears in his eyes and pen in his hand, frantically writing on a yellow legal pad!) As if to confirm what I was feeling at that moment, Max quotes from 1 Corinthians 2:9, "No one has ever imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him."

      The longer I sat there and allowed the vision to grow and occupy my heart, the more immense it became. As it continued, I found myself standing in the midst of another group of people. This time I was waiting for my chance to step forward at Christ's invitation to give my thanks and embrace to Richard Hastings, that sweet, gentle and patient coworker who had led a very angry and hurting young Naval Officer back to Christ after 18 years of rejecting Him because of the sudden and senseless death of his parents. Later, another crowd parts and I step forward to embrace Mom and Dad and thank them for laying the ground work for what Richard would later accomplish. To introduce them to Cathy and all the children they never got a chance to meet.

      Back through the generations the vision takes me, group by group, until I stand before Peter and Paul and the other Apostles who gave us Christ's words and first established His church. The very words that triggered Max's study that then triggered this vision I'm sharing with you. (Yes, Max, I fully expect to be one of those who will one day step from a crowd and give thanks and an embrace to you!!!) I touch and am touched by someone in every generation from Adam and Eve to the moment of Christ's second coming. Giving and receiving thanks and praising Christ. Praising what He has done in us and through us. Continuous praise that washes over us like endless waves of joy.

      In the hymn "Amazing Grace" there is a verse that says when we've been in heaven praising God for 10,000 years, "we'll have no less days to sing God's praise, than when we'd first begun." I used to have a lot of trouble imagining what it would be like - to be actively in praise for some 20,000 years. Limited as our years are, it's hard to imagine anything of that duration. But I think I've moved one step closer to being able to imagine it now. It may take longer than that just to offer up our praise to God for each person in the chain of history who had a part in what would eventually lead each of us to Christ. And another 10,000 years or so thanking Him for what He did through us, using our seemingly meager gifts and talents to touch others lives and lead them to Him. Those dear ones who are part of the crown He will give to us. The crown that we will gladly offer up Him in return as the elders do in the Book of Revelation.

      After the tears had dried and the breakfast tray was removed, I sat in seat 31H just relaxing in the glow of what Christ had ministered to me. The sense of joy I felt in that moment, also led to a sense of conviction that I needed to share all of this with you. And so this edition of "Notes" was begun. What our Lord intends to do with it will not be finished until that moment when He comes again to take us up with Him. On that day, we will all stand together and celebrate our Lord and the mighty and loving things that He has done. Every step we take in obedience to His calling gives Him the opportunity to involve us in what He does. Each step begins a chain of events that will reach into places and achieve miracles far beyond anything we can imagine now. I gained a small sense of the amazement and joy we will feel when He reveals those places and miracles to us on our reunion day.

      In light of this vision, I can't help wondering how many opportunities for ministry God will place in my path during the journey today and the meetings I'm suppose to attend in Washington D. C. this week? How many new chains of events will He be able to start through me over the next few days? What miracles will they achieve that He will reveal and share with me one day. Each miracle touching a person who will become a part of the crown He is preparing for me. I know He wants me to think about it and He wants you to think about it too. Be sensitive to His leading, sensitive to the things He is doing around you, to the people He brings across your path. Be ready to respond. You are His hands, His voice, His heart in a sinful and foreign land. Be prepared to step outside of what may be comfortable to you and into His will for you.

      Today you may meet someone destined to be a jewel in your crown, a member of the group that will step forward to embrace you at the invitation of Christ on our heavenly reunion day. But first, you must be willing to take that step towards them now. I pray these words and the vision they share will enable you to do it. To the glory of our Lord, Jesus Christ, who is the author and finisher of our faith.

      I remain sheltered under His wing and overwhelmed by His love ,
      Your brother in Christ,

      Steve Hall



      THE DAY I MET DANIEL
      (Received from Kimberly of HeartStrings - Author Unknown)

      It was an unusually cold day for the month of May. Spring had arrived and everything was alive with color. But a cold front from the North had brought winter's chill back to Indiana. I sat with two friends in the picture window of a quaint restaurant just off the corner of the town square. The food and the company were both especially good that day. As we talked, my attention was drawn outside, across the street. There, walking into town, was a man who appeared to be carrying all his worldly goods on his back. He was carrying a well-worn sign that read, "I will work for food."

      My heart sank. I brought him to the attention of my friends and noticed that others around us had stopped eating to focus on him. Heads moved in a mixture of sadness and disbelief. We continued with our meal, but his image lingered in my mind. We finished our meal and went our separate ways. I had errands to do and quickly set out to accomplish them. I glanced toward the town square, looking somewhat halfheartedly for the strange visitor. I was fearful, knowing that seeing him again would call some response. I drove through town and saw nothing of him. I made some purchases at a store and got back in my car.

      Deep within me, the Spirit of God kept speaking to me: "Don't go back to the office until you've at least driven once more around the square." And so, with some hesitancy, I headed back into town. As I turned the square's third corner, I saw him. He was standing on the steps of the storefront church, going through his sack. I stopped and looked, feeling both compelled to speak to him, yet wanting to drive on. The empty parking space on the corner seemed to be a sign from God: an invitation to park. I pulled in, got out and approached the town's newest visitor.

      "Looking for the pastor?" I asked.

      "Not really," he replied,"Just resting."

      "Have you eaten today?"

      "Oh, I ate something early this morning."

      "Would you like to have lunch with me?

      "Do you have some work I could do for you?"

      "No work," I replied."But I would like to take you to lunch."

      "Sure,"he replied with a smile.

      As he began to gather his things. I asked some surface questions.

      "Where you headed?"

      "St. Louis."

      "Where you from?"

      "Oh, all over; mostly Florida."

      "How long you been walking?"

      "Fourteen years," came the reply.

      I knew I had met someone unusual. We sat across from each other in the same restaurant I had left earlier. His face was weathered slightly beyond his 38 years. His eyes were dark yet clear, and he spoke with an eloquence and articulation that was startling. He removed his jacket to reveal a bright red T-shirt that said, "Jesus is The Never Ending Story." Then Daniel's story began to unfold. He had seen rough times early in life.

      He'd made some wrong choices and reaped the consequences. Fourteen years earlier, while backpacking across the country, he had stopped on the beach in Daytona. He tried to hire on with some men who were putting up a large tent and some equipment. A concert, he thought. He was hired, but the tent would not house a concert but revival services, and in those services he saw life more clearly. He gave his life over to God.

      "Nothing's been the same since", he said, "I felt the Lord telling me to keep walking, and so I did, some 14 years now."

      "Ever think of stopping?" I asked.

      "Oh, once in a while, when it seems to get the best of me. But God has given me this calling. I give out Bibles. That's what's in my sack. I work to buy food and Bibles, and I give them out when His Spirit leads."

      I sat amazed. My homeless friend was not homeless. He was on a mission and lived this way by choice. The question burned inside for a moment and then I asked: "What's it like?"

      "What?"

      "To walk into a town carrying all your things on your back and to show your sign?"

      "Oh, it was humiliating at first. People would stare and make comments. Once someone tossed a piece of half-eaten bread and made a gesture that certainly didn't make me feel welcome. But then it became humbling to realize that God was using me to touch lives and change people's concepts of other folks like me."

      My concept was changing, too. We finished our dessert and gathered his things. Just outside the door, he paused. He turned to me and said, "Come ye blessed of my Father and inherit the kingdom I've prepared for you. For when I was hungry you gave me food, when I was thirsty you gave me drink, a stranger and you took me in." I felt as if we were on holy ground.

      "Could you use another Bible?" I asked.

      He said he preferred a certain translation. It traveled well and was not too heavy. It was also his personal favorite. "I've read through it 14 times,"he said. "I'm not sure we've got one of those, but let's stop by our church and see."

      I was able to find my new friend a Bible that would do well, and he seemed very grateful. "Where you headed from here?"

      "Well, I found this little map on the back of this amusement park coupon."

      "Are you hoping to hire on there for a while?"

      "No, I just figure I should go there. I figure someone under that star right there needs a Bible, so that's where I'm going next." He smiled, and the warmth of his spirit radiated the sincerity of his mission. I drove him back to the town square where we'd met two hours earlier, and as we drove, it started raining. We parked and unloaded his things.

      "Would you sign my autograph book?" he asked. "I like to keep messages from folks I meet."

      I wrote in his little book that his commitment to his calling had touched my life. I encouraged him to stay strong. And I left him with a verse of scripture, in Jeremiah, "I know the plans I have for you," declared the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a future and a hope."

      Thanks, man," he said. "I know we just met and we're really just strangers, but I love you."

      "I know," I said, "I love you, too."

      "The Lord is good."

      "Yes. He is. How long has it been since someone hugged you?" I asked.

      "A long time," he replied.

      And so on the busy street corner in the drizzling rain, my new friend and I embraced, and I felt deep inside that I had been changed. He put his things on his back, smiled his winning smile and said, "See you in Heaven."

      "I'll be there!" was my reply.

      He began his journey again. He headed away with his sign dangling from his bedroll and pack of Bibles. He stopped, turned and said, "When you see something that makes you think of me, will you pray for me?"

      "You bet," I shouted back, "God bless."

      "God bless."

      And that was the last I saw of him. Late that evening as I left my office, the wind blew strong. The cold front had settled hard upon the town. I bundled up and hurried to my car. As I sat back and reached for the emergency brake, I saw them....a pair of well-worn brown work gloves neatly laid over
      the length of the handle. I picked them up and thought of my friend and wondered if his hands would stay warm that night without them. I remembered his words: "If you see something that makes you think of me, will you pray for me?"

      Today his gloves lie on my desk in my office. They help me to see the world and its people in a new way, and they help me remember those two hours with my unique friend and to pray for his ministry. "See you in Heaven," he said. Yes, Daniel, I know I will....



      WHAT IS A TRUE CHRISTIAN
      (Author Joseph Roy, Leadership)

      A true Christian is a sign of contradiction--a living symbol of the Cross.
      He or she is a person who:
      believes the unbelievable,
      bears the unbearable,
      forgives the unforgivable,
      loves the unlovable,
      is perfectly happy not to be perfect,
      is willing to give up his or her will,
      becomes weak to be strong ...
      and finds love by giving it away.


      ________________________________________________

      Copyright � 1998-2000 by Stephen J. Hall - Weekly letters of encouragement to Christians written by Stephen J. Hall unless otherwise indicated. Notes from the Valley and Humor from the Valley are never intended to offend anyone. They're meant only to brighten your day and encourage you along the way. Most of "notes" and "humor" are a collection of items provided to me by subscribers and friends. Credit is given to both the contributor and to the true author, where known. If you are blessed by them, please feel free to make copies and pass them along to others. An archive of previous editions of "Notes" and "Humor" is available on our list's main page:

      http://www.onelist.com/community/From-the-Valley
      ________________________________________________

      Your love, God, is my song, and I'll sing it! I'm forever telling everyone how faithful you are. I'll never quit telling the story of your love - how you built the cosmos and guaranteed everything in it. Your love has always been our lives foundation, your fidelity has been the roof over our world. (Psalm 89:1-3 The Message)
    • Stephen J. Hall
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ NOTES FROM THE VALLEY April 30, 2006 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil
      Message 2 of 2 , May 2, 2006
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        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

        NOTES FROM THE VALLEY
        April 30, 2006

        "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
        I will fear no evil for you are with me." Psalm 23.

        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        "In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all
        people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will
        see visions, your old men will dream dreams."
        Acts 2:17

        At the time, I was traveling alone on business to Washington, D. C.
        I had just finished reading a portion of Max Lucado's book, "When
        Christ Comes." Max conjectured about what will take place when a
        believer comes face-to-face with Jesus after He has returned. As I
        meditated on Max's words, the vision of that meeting became a very
        personal experience for me. The vision and its promises are to ALL
        believers, so I've tried to share it as follows . . .

        . . . Suddenly I am standing before Jesus. I am overcome by
        emotion. I just want to fall at His feet to worship and thank Him,
        but He grasps me by the shoulders and holds me up so He can look
        into my eyes while He speaks to me. As He talks, His face is aglow
        with a brilliant smile. All around us is this endless throng of
        people. I am dumbfounded when Jesus begins to tell me He is proud
        of me, of the way I allowed Him to use my life. He tells me that
        there are people with us in heaven who are there in part because of
        things that I had done to serve Him and that those people would very
        much like to thank me, if I'm ready? I nod my head "yes," too
        astonished to even utter a word.

        With a gesture of His hand, Jesus issues His invitation for them to
        come. From the throng, people emerge and step forward to embrace
        me. Some of them are people I never thought would make it into
        heaven. Each one explains how some word, or an act of kindness, or
        a helping hand had made them question the difference between their
        lives and mine. And in seeking their answer to that question they
        found Jesus and were saved. Still others relate how a missionary or
        preacher I had supported with my finances had drawn them to Christ
        by their words and God's Word. There are neighbors, coworkers,
        friends and strangers. Tears flow freely as they share their
        stories.

        Each story adds to my amazement. Christ is there next to me,
        sharing in it all. I have no sense of how much time elapses or how
        many step forward to embrace me. It seems endless.

        Jesus suddenly leans closer to me and whispers, "And now the best
        part." The look on His face is one I can never forget. The joy and
        anticipation of one who loves me so much and is about to give me a
        gift so very precious that He has given everything to obtain it for
        me. He makes another gesture with His hand. The circle of saints
        surrounding us parts to reveal a new group approaching us. In the
        lead is my wife Cathy and she is followed by our children and many
        others. Cathy rushes into my arms and we just hold each other
        tightly, unwilling to let go. Christ embraces us both and His tears
        of joy mingle with ours. Michael, Jack, Chris and Jenny huddle
        around us and join in our embrace. They then introduce us to their
        children and their children's children. All those who accepted
        their salvation as the result of the lessons we had taught our
        children about Jesus and they had passed on, down through all the
        generations until the day of Christ's coming. Generation after
        generation in seemingly endless ranks of precious saints.

        Even as I was trying to grasp the immensity of it all, the vision
        expanded far beyond what my mind could comprehend. My heart and my
        spirit where overwhelmed. As if to confirm what I was feeling at
        that moment, Max quotes from 1 Corinthians 2:9, "No one has ever
        imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him."

        The longer I sat there and allowed the vision to grow and occupy my
        heart, the more immense it became. As it continued, I found myself
        standing in the midst of another group of people. This time I was
        waiting for my chance to step forward at Christ's invitation to give
        my thanks and embrace to Richard Hastings, that sweet, gentle and
        patient coworker who had led a very angry and hurting young Naval
        Officer back to Christ after 18 years of rejecting Him because of
        the sudden and senseless death of his parents. Later, another crowd
        parts and I step forward to embrace my Stepmom Jean and Dad and
        thank them for laying the ground work for what Richard would later
        accomplish. To introduce them to Cathy and all the children they
        never got a chance to meet.

        Back through the generations the vision takes me, group by group,
        until I stand before Peter and Paul and the other Apostles who gave
        us Christ's words and first established His church. The very words
        that triggered Max's study that then triggered this vision I'm
        sharing with you. (Yes, Max, I fully expect to be one of those who
        will one day step from a crowd and give thanks and an embrace to
        you!!!) I touch and am touched by someone in every generation from
        Adam and Eve to the moment of Christ's second coming. Giving and
        receiving thanks and praising Christ. Praising what He has done in
        us and through us. Continuous praise that washes over us like
        endless waves of joy.

        In the hymn "Amazing Grace" there is a verse that says when we've
        been in heaven praising God for 10,000 years, "we'll have no less
        days to sing God's praise, than when we'd first begun." I used to
        have a lot of trouble imagining what it would be like - to be
        actively in praise for some 20,000 years. Limited as our years are,
        it's hard to imagine anything of that duration.

        But I think I've moved one step closer to being able to imagine it
        now. It may take longer than that just to offer up our praise to
        God for each person in the chain of history who had a part in what
        would eventually lead each of us to Christ. And another 10,000
        years or so thanking Him for what He did through us, using our
        seemingly meager gifts and talents to touch others lives and lead
        them to Him. Those dear ones who are part of the crown He will give
        to us. The crown that we will gladly offer up to Him in return as
        the elders do in the Book of Revelation.

        The vision filled me with such an overwhelming sense of joy. And an
        equally undeniable conviction that I needed to share it with
        others. And so I have.

        In light of this vision, I can't help wondering how many
        opportunities for ministry God will place in my path this week? How
        many new chains of events will He be able to start through me over
        the next few days if I am attentive and obedient? What miracles
        will they achieve that He will reveal and share with me one day.
        Each miracle touching a person who will become a part of the crown
        He is preparing for me. I know He wants me to think about it and He
        wants you to think about it too. Be sensitive to His leading,
        sensitive to the things He is doing around you, to the people He
        brings across your path with questions to be answered. Be ready to
        respond. You are His hands, His voice, His heart in a sinful and
        foreign land. Be prepared to step outside of what may be
        comfortable to you and into His will for you - to share your passion
        for the Christ.

        Today you may meet someone destined to be a jewel in your crown, a
        member of the group that will step forward to embrace you at the
        invitation of Christ on our heavenly reunion day. But first, you
        must be willing to take that step towards them now. I pray these
        words and the vision they share will enable you to do it. To the
        glory of our Lord, Jesus Christ, who is the author and finisher of
        our faith.

        Sheltered under His wing and overwhelmed by His love,
        Steve



        THE DAY I MET DANIEL
        (Author - Richard Ryan, Pastor Old Capitol United Methodist Church,
        Corydon, Indiana )

        It was an unusually cold day for the month of May. Spring had
        brought everything alive with color, but a northern cold front had
        brought winter's chill back to southern Indiana.

        I sat with two friends in a quaint restaurant just off the town
        square. As we talked, my attention was drawn outside, across the
        street. There, walking into town, was a man who appeared to be
        carrying all his worldly goods on his back. I could read the well-
        worn sign attached to his pack: I WILL WORK FOR FOOD.

        My heart sank. I noticed other people at the tables around us
        looking at him, too, shaking their heads in sadness and disbelief.
        We finished our meal, but I couldn't get the image of the man out of
        my mind.

        I had a list of errands to do before going back to work. As I passed
        the town square, I looked halfheartedly for the stranger. If I see
        him again, I'll have to do something, I thought with a knot in my
        stomach.

        I drove through town and saw no sign of him. As I finished my
        errands and got back in the car, I felt the Spirit of God speaking
        to me: "Don't go back to the office until you've driven once more
        around the square."

        After a moment's hesitation, I headed back. At a corner of the town
        square, I spotted him standing on the steps of the stone-front
        church, going through his pack. Do I really have to get involved?
        What should I say to him? Maybe it's best to just drive on. The
        vacant parking space on the street seemed to be a sign from God. I
        pulled in, got out, and approached the town's newest visitor.

        "Looking for the pastor?" I asked.
        "Not really," he replied. "Just resting."
        "Have you eaten today?"
        "Oh, I ate something early this morning."
        "Would you like some lunch?" I offered.
        "Do you have some work I can do for you?"
        "No," I replied. "I commute here from the city but I would like to
        take you to dinner."
        "Sure," he finally agreed with a smile.

        As he gathered his things, I asked some innocent questions.

        "Where you headed?"
        "St. Louis."
        "From...?"
        "Oh, all over; mostly Florida."
        "How long you been walking?"
        "Fourteen years," came the unexpected reply.

        We sat across from each other in the same restaurant I had left only
        minutes earlier, and Daniel and I got acquainted. His dark hair was
        long and straight, and he had a neatly trimmed beard. His face,
        weathered by the outdoors, seemed slightly older than thirty-eight
        years. His eyes were dark yet clear. I was startled at how
        articulate he was. As he removed his denim jacket, I read the words
        on his bright red T-shirt: JESUS IS THE NEVER ENDING STORY.

        Then Daniel's story began to unfold. He had seen some rough times
        early in life. He'd made some wrong choices and reaped the
        consequences. Fourteen years earlier while backpacking across the
        country, he had stopped in Daytona Beach. He hired on with some men
        who were putting up a large tent and sound equip-ment. A concert,
        Daniel thought. Instead, it was a series of revival services, and he
        gave his life over to Christ.

        "Nothing's been the same since," he said. "I felt the Lord telling
        me to keep walking, and so I did."
        "Ever think of stopping?" I asked.
        "Oh, once in a while, when it seems to get the best of me. But God
        has given me this calling. I give out Bibles. That's what's in my
        pack. I work to buy food and Bibles, and I give them out when his
        Spirit leads."


        It suddenly hit me. This homeless friend is not homeless. He's on a
        mission and lives this way by choice. My next question burned inside
        me before I finally asked: "What's it like?"
        "What?"
        "To walk into a town with everything you own on your back. And
        having to carry that sign?"
        "Oh, it was humiliating at first," Daniel admitted. "People would
        stare and make comments. Once someone tossed a piece of half-eaten
        bread at me and made an obscene gesture. That didn't make me feel
        welcome. But then I realized God was using me to touch lives and
        change people's concepts of other folks like me."

        My concept was changing, too.

        We finished our dessert and gathered his things. Just outside the
        door Daniel paused. He turned to me and said, "Come ye blessed of my
        Father and inherit the kingdom I've prepared for you. For when I was
        hungry you gave me food, when I was thirsty you gave me drink, a
        stranger and you took me in."
        I felt as if we were on holy ground.
        "Could you use another Bible?" I asked. He mentioned a certain
        translation that traveled well and was also his personal favorite.
        "I've read through it fourteen times," he said.
        I was able to find Daniel a Bible and he seemed grateful. "Where you
        headed from here?" I asked.
        "Well, I found a little map on the back of this amusement park
        coupon."
        "Are you hoping to hire on there for a while?"
        "No, I just figure I should go there."
        He pointed to the map. "I figure someone under that star right there
        needs a Bible, so that's where I'm going next." Daniel smiled
        warmly.
        I drove him back to the town square where we'd met two hours
        earlier. It began to rain as we unloaded his things.
        "Would you like to sign my autograph book?" he asked. "I like to
        keep messages from folks I meet."

        I wrote how his commitment to his calling had touched my life. I
        encouraged him to stay strong. And I left him with the words of
        Jeremiah 29:11. "I know the plans I have for you," declares the
        Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a
        future and a hope."

        "Thanks," Daniel said. "I know we just met and we're really just
        strangers, but I love you."
        "I know," I said. "I love you, too."
        "The Lord is good."
        "Yes, he is. How long has it been since someone hugged you?" I
        asked.
        "A long time," he replied.
        And so on the busy street corner in the drizzling rain, my new
        friend and I embraced. Deep inside, I had been changed.

        Daniel adjusted his belongings on his back, smiled his winning
        smile, and said, "See you in the new Jerusalem."
        "I'll be there," was my reply.
        He began his journey again, his sign dangling from his bed roll and
        pack of Bibles. Then he suddenly turned and asked, "If you see
        something that makes you think of me, will you pray for me?"
        "You bet," I shouted back.
        "God bless."
        "God bless."

        It was the last time I ever saw him.

        Later that evening as I left the office, the wind blew stronger. I
        bundled up and hurried to the car. As I reached for the emergency
        brake, I saw them—a pair of well-worn brown work gloves neatly laid
        over the handle. I picked them up and wondered if Daniel's hands
        would stay warm tonight without them. I remembered his request: "If
        you see something that makes you think of me, will you pray for me?"

        I keep Daniel's cotton gloves in my office to help me see the world
        and its people in a new way. His two hours of ministry affected me
        from that day on. Sometimes I can hear his voice distinctly, "See
        you in the new Jerusalem."

        Yes, Daniel, I know I will.

        _____________________________________________________________________
        ___________________

        Copyright © 1998 - 2006 by Stephen J. Hall - Notes from the
        Valley and Humor from the Valley are meant to brighten your day and
        encourage you along the way. If you are blessed by them, please
        feel free to make copies and pass them along to others. If you
        have something you'd like to contribute to a future edition or would
        like to ask us a question or make a comment, please contact us at:
        steveh.rbis@...
        _____________________________________________________________
        ___________________________


        Your love, God, is my song, and I'll sing it! I'm forever telling
        everyone how faithful you are. I'll never quit telling the story of
        your love . . . (Psalm 89:1-2 The Message)
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