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“When you do not follow through with the boldness and knowledge I have given you, more than one person is affected” 


I was opening that day for work. On Sundays, no other employees come in until 11:00, which meant I had two hours of work to do by myself and then open the store for another hour alone with customers.


Usually no one comes in until about 11:30 on a Sunday morning anyway, so I always have plenty of time on my hands. I couldn't believe how windy and cloudy it was. The cold of the breeze alone could bring you to a chill. It was 10:00, so I flipped the switch for the open sign and unlocked the doors.


It must have been only five minutes after that when I heard the doorbell ringing, telling me I had a customer. I went out front and began to put the gloves on, ready to make the first sandwich of the day. I looked up and saw a woman who must have been in her late forties. She was wearing several layers of clothes. They were torn and dirty. Her face was dark from dirt. She was shivering, and then she began to cough in an almost uncontrollable manner. She looked up at me after she was all right and she gave me such a warm smile.


“What can I do for you, Ma’am?” I asked.


She looked at me pleasantly and said, “Oh, I was just wondering if you happen to know what time the busses are coming. I have been waiting out in the cold for two hours. You think they wouldn't be so late, especially on a Saturday.”


I felt bad when I told her it was actually Sunday.


She looked at me with such embarrassment and shock. “Oh no,” she said. “I need to get back downtown. I thought it was Saturday. Do you mind if I just sit here for a while until I figure out what to do?”


“No problem”, I told her and she sat at the table in the far corner. As I looked at her and the situation more carefully, I realized she must have been so poor, and maybe even homeless. She was dressed in the dingiest clothes that hadn't been washed in a while. She had a snug winter hat on, three layers of flannel, baggy pants, worn-through tennis shoes, and gloves.


Her gloves were turned inside out. They had fringes coming off all sides.

I felt right then and there that I should have made her a sandwich free of charge. Then I should talk to her, telling her that whatever she did, God loved her and wanted her to trust him and fall into his arms once again. I knew where all of this was coming from. I knew God was giving me these words and asking me to go talk to her. But what if...what if...the usual questions and doubts about why I shouldn't crowded in.  I went back to work, trying to forget about it, and hoping she would leave soon.


My next customer came about an hour after that. She was a woman in her early thirties. She was well dressed in what looked like a work outfit. She had her hair pulled up nicely, and she was laced with perfume. I made her some sandwiches, and we were at the cash register when she asked me how long the other woman had been sitting there. I told her about an hour.


“Did she get anything to eat?” the lady asked me.


“No”, I said, and told her about the busses. Then, the lady asked me if I wouldn't mind making one more sandwich. I looked at her and smiled. I never made a sandwich with such happiness and at the same time guilt. I told the lady no charge, and handed her a bag of chips to go with it. She thanked me and then went to the other woman. She handed her the food and began to talk to her. They must have talked for two hours before I saw them leave.


As I was cleaning the tables and feeling bad for not talking to the woman myself, I noticed that she had left her gloves. I told God that I was sorry for disobeying him. He told me something that will always give me a boldness in these situations, something that will never make me hesitate to tell others of him:


“You feel like she missed something because you lost your boldness, but she didn't lose her opportunity. The other woman is sharing with her right now and she will not lose out on me. You lost. You passed up the chance to gain something. You just let a wonderful flame go past you and into the hands of another. Let this be known, child, that when you do not follow through with the boldness and knowledge I have given you, more than one person is affected by it. You are as well as them.”

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