“…because there was no guest room available for them.”
It was just two weeks before Christmas Day and we had just gotten home from Wednesday night church activities. I was yelling up the stairs to my youngest to get her teeth brushed and get into bed, when the doorbell rang. My oldest two watched me as I walked to the door and announced, “It is just Daniel.” Immediately I felt myself getting annoyed. First, I hadn’t gotten my slippers on yet and knew my feet would be freezing while I stood in our front porch and talked to him. Second, I was hoping that whatever he needed was something I would quickly be able to help him with.
We met Daniel about three years ago when he lived just a few doors down from us. It was once again very cold and late at night; we were just getting kids into bed, when the doorbell rang. I timidly went out on our enclosed front porch and spoke through the mail slot, when I saw that it was the large man I had seen walking his pit bull several times through our neighborhood. He asked, “Is the one with the jeep home?” I learned that earlier that week my husband Dave had said a small friendly hello to Daniel as he walked his dog past our garage and Dave was getting out of his jeep; that was how our friendship with Daniel started.
We helped him with flu medicine, food and toilet paper that night and over the years have tried to continue in small ways to provide Daniel with things he needs. Our church has also stepped in alongside us to help Daniel when the needs were more than what we could afford. Sometimes he just stops by to say hi or even to ask me to get him the shovel so he can start clearing the walk and steps of snow for us. He smells of alcohol often and over the years has added to the number of tattoos on his face. If you saw or met Daniel for the very first time today I think you maybe afraid of him. I know I was the first several times he came to our door.
As I opened the front door that Wednesday night, immediately my feet were freezing and I grumbled to myself about how he always comes at bedtime. He stated his now very regular greeting to me of, “Is Dave home?” I told him Dave was still leading youth group and wouldn’t be home for another forty-five minutes. He then went on to tell me that he and his girlfriend, June, had lost their place to stay and had been sleeping in their car, that the radiator had a crack, and they had no heat in it now. I look out towards to street. June was standing outside the car and all of their belongings were in the back seat. I quickly decided to give Daniel $10, told him to go eat supper and come back in forty-five minutes.
All of the sudden my feet were no longer freezing and my heart was once again broken for Daniel. I stood there in my warm living room decorated in all of our Christmas bests and knew there was no way I was going to let Daniel and June sleep in their car that night. It was well below zero and continuing to drop. My words of “It is just Daniel” were haunting me.
“Just Daniel” who in the past we have found great joy in being able to help.
“Just Daniel” who Jesus loves and has taught me to love as well.
“Just Daniel” who Jesus came to earth to die on the cross for his sins and for mine.
“Just Daniel” who I believe with all my heart that God has a purpose for.
Dave made many phone calls that night to see what Daniel and June’s options were. Each shelter has rules and restrictions, and rightfully so. But this freezing cold night, just 2 week before Christmas, the passage “there was no guest room available for them” became real to me in a whole new way. Along with our church’s help, we secured a hotel room for them for the next 4 nights, until a new shelter opened.
I am thankful for all the ways we have been able to help Daniel, but especially for that cold Wednesday night. My prayer is that I will never forget that haunting feeling of being annoyed with “Just Daniel” as well as the joy that followed in being able to serve and help a friend in need.
Lord, please help us to remember the joy of serving and giving to the ”Just Daniel’s” in our lives. For we never know when we will find ourselves being the one needing the help of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Please help us to not overlook those joyful heart-filling opportunities of serving you by serving others, just because it may not have been convenient at the time. Amen.