Always Real, Faith

Man On A Sidewalk

The other day I was on my way to pick up Sean from school when I saw a man bent over on the sidewalk.  That is not something you see around here everyday, so it caught my eye and I slowed to see what was going on. And I couldn’t quite tell.

I couldn’t tell if he was having a heart attack and had dropped to his knees. I couldn’t tell if he had been jogging and was winded.  I couldn’t tell if he had stopped to examine a bug or perhaps he had just stopped to tie his shoes. But something about it sent my antennae up. Something was not quite right.

But I was running late as usual, so I didn’t stop.  After I retrieved my child from school, I circled back to see if he was still there.  He was, so I slowed and rolled down my window.

“You doin’ okay?” I called towards him from a safe distance.

He looked up, surprised.

“Yeah,” he sighed.  Then, “No. Not really.  I’m having a really bad day.”  He sounded tired, not so much in body but in spirit.  A fatigued spirit is the worst kind of tired; no amount of sleep or vitamins can restore a weary soul.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” I said sympathetically and empathetically. I’ve had a few days in my life where I’ve wanted to collapse in a heap on the sidewalk and cry.

“You wouldn’t have a cigarette, would you?” he asked from the sidewalk.

“No, I’m sorry, I don’t,” I said.

I look in my rear view mirror.  I can see Sean looking at the man through his rolled up window.  He is taking it all in with curiosity as though he is watching a movie waiting to see what will happen in the next scene.

Without any cigarettes, I could see that there wasn’t much beyond sympathy I could offer him, so I promised that I would send up a prayer for him.

Offering to pray for someone is a risky thing, and to be perfectly honest, I don’t do a whole lot of that sort of thing, particularly with strangers, but there was something desperate about the way he was hunched over on the sidewalk that evoked an upwelling in my heart and a desire to do something to relieve his burden in some small way.  He could have told me where to stick my prayers, but he didn’t.

He smiled just a little. I thought I saw a glimmer of hope, a tiny spark.

“Thanks man, thanks for stopping, thanks for checking on me, thanks…” he rambled.

“Hang in there,” I said. It didn’t quite convey the encouragement I wished for him, but it was all I could think to say.

He cut such a sorrowful figure standing there that I couldn’t help but to wonder what it was that had brought him to his knees on a sidewalk in the middle of the day.  I could think of a hundred things, maybe a thousand.

As I pulled away, Sean asked how we were going to pray for him.  “We don’t even know his name,” he pointed out.

“That’s true,” I said. “We don’t know his name and we don’t know what is troubling him, but God does.”

As we drove home, my little boy and I prayed for a man on a sidewalk.  It was all we could do.

33 thoughts on “Man On A Sidewalk

  1. Even if the guy was secretly the worst sort of human, god is still supposed to care, so it never hurts to send a prayer.

  2. Hope is the thing with feathers / that nestles in the soul…. Once, I was walking through NYC crying, and someone reached out, and said hang in there, baby. It made a difference. You made a difference in that’s guy’s day, just by stopping.

  3. I hope things turned up for him. You set a wonderful example for Sean with all you did right there. Prayer is the souls sincere desire, you did the right thing. Such a tender moment.

  4. Thanks for sharing this AM. It’s a good reminder that even the smallest of things, like a kind word or an offered prayer, can make a difference in someone’s life.

  5. It is always appropriate to pray for someone. God charged us to love one another, and only HE knows best what that man needed….and it probably wasn’t a cigarette! We tend to say that “all I could do for them was pray” as if that is a last resort when prayer is the most powerful way to help someone and should be our first line of defense. We all do that. You were a good example for your son. He learned a lot that day.

  6. Hey, you know your prayer was answered before you even offered it up, right? You gave that man the message that as bad as he thought things were, as lonely as he was, somebody noticed. Somebody cared. I think you were supposed to see him so that you could tell him that.

  7. Sometimes we entertain angels.

    Usually not smoking angels, but who knows…Maybe he was here and wanted to try something. 😉

    No matter how small the gesture it was Big in the sight of the Lord. You helped out a fellow man and taught a sweet lesson to a sweet watchful boy. And you are right, you can pray for people you don’t know because the Lord always knows.

    Now the sidewalk man will be prayed for by others including me because of your lesson.

    How beautiful.

  8. Sometimes the most difficult – and effective – thing we can do for someone is to pray for him/her.

    You may never know how much you impacted that man’s life for the positive.

  9. You are just a wonderful person through and through. What a beautiful thing you taught Sean. What a beautiful thing you did for that man on the sidewalk.

    It is ironic that you posted this. I was just saying to my husband that even the smallest kind word can make a difference in a person’s day and life. You not only touched that man’s life but it rippled and touched Sean’s and now everyone who reads this post. Sean learned a valuable lesson. That you can pray for anyone and everyone. It doesn’t matter if you know their name. God does. He knows all of our names and most of all our hurts. Thank you for this post. I will be praying with you and the others for this man.

    I hope you are as blessed by this as all of us were.

  10. Forgive me if I’ve sent my fav quote on prayer to you before, but it seems worth repeating:

    “Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the One who hears it and not the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.” -Max Lucado

    So now, because of your post I have prayed for him as well.

  11. I can’t help but wonder how many people just drove on by. You stopped. You might have spoken the only kind words he’d heard all day. I’ll pray for him, too.

  12. Wonderful.

    And who knows…maybe you did entertain an angel. Ever see that movie “Michael” with John Travolta as the angel? He smoked. 🙂

  13. What a wonderful way to allow Him to use you. I like the fact that you did not move ahead of Him, thus what you did was more than enough. God will lead those prayers.

  14. Loved this story for many reasons. Your simply stopping to notice and then inquire was the proverbial cup of cold water, friend. And your boy saw a lot of what Christianity is about to boot.

  15. I have the feeling that you don’t want us to praise you for having stopped, but that you want us to start being aware of all the many people who live around and near and beside us who are crushed in spirit and carrying the weight of the world–a weight we can sometimes see externally.

    I’m glad that you not only said that you would pray for him, but that you drove away doing just that. I trust that God hears and knows and cares–not just for the bent, worn man, but for the woman with the tender heart who stopped and prayed.

  16. I love how this post generated prayer for a nameless man…including mine…and that, even so many days after you wrote this, he is still benefitting. As are all of us. Thank you, AM.

  17. That was so wonderful of you to stop and make sure he was ok. The world is truly blessed to have people like you in it.

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