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THE PROPHET

 



T
HE PROPHET

I wanted breakfast. I got a prophet.

I stopped at the grocery store on the way to the office this morning. Had to run an errand and decided while I was there to run another. I went over to the deli to order some breakfast. For a couple of bucks you can get all the eggs and sausage you can handle. My waistline and the doctor keep me from doing this every day, but since I was in the store anyway and since I hadn’t eaten . . .

 

A prophet had the same idea. Not a prophet in the Bible, but a prophet with a Bible. A thick, dog-eared blue-bound Bible. He was short and thin—a wispy fellow with cropped, unkempt hair and a bushy, red beard.

By the time I got there, he was already ordering his food. Meticulously ordering his food. “Do you serve a breakfast taco with no meat?” Yes.

“Just potatoes and eggs?”

              

Yes.

“Is it salted?”

No.

“How many potatoes?”

The deli lady lifted the pan so he could see.

“And how many tacos?”

Maybe he wanted to be sure he got his money’s worth. Maybe he observes a religious diet. Or maybe he was just picky. I couldn’t tell. But I could see that he was polite, painfully polite.

He carried a rake. (A modern version of the winnowing fork perhaps?) His robe was blue, and under it was a shirt that looked like a converted towel.

 

As one was preparing the prophet’s food, a second worker appeared. He thought the prophet hadn’t been waited on and asked if he needed help.

“No, I’ve been helped. But since you asked, may I ask you if you are a believer in Jesus Christ? I am his prophet, and I am sent to you.”

The worker didn’t know how to respond. He looked at the deli lady, who looked over her shoulder and shrugged. He looked at me, then looked away. Then he looked back at the prophet and mumbled something like, “Thanks for coming,” and asked me if I needed any help.

I did and told him what I wanted. And while I waited, out came the tacos for the prophet. He’d ordered a soft drink— with no ice. And water—in a paper cup. He was surprised at the color of his soft drink.

“I thought it would be orange.”

“No, it’s clear,” the lady responded.

                                      

I half-hoped he’d try a miracle—changing the drink from clear to orange. He didn’t; he simply interpreted the moment. “In life it really doesn’t matter what color your drinks are, does it?” He smiled at the lady, smiled at the man, and then smiled at me.

 

We all smiled back.

Since he had a Bible in one hand and a rake in the other, I wondered how he was going to carry the food. So I offered to help. He declined.

“Thank you in the name of Jesus for offering to help, but I can make it.”

He stacked the plate on the top of the soft-drink cup and somehow picked up the water with the rake-holding, Bibletoting hand. In the process he almost lost it all, so I offered to help again.

“No, but in the name of Jesus I bless you for offering to help me.”

“And,” he turned to the deli lady, “I bless you in the name of Jesus Christ for your kind assistance.”

“And,” he caught the glance of the deli man, “I bless you in the name of Jesus Christ.” He didn’t say what for. A generic blessing, I assumed.

Having blessed us, he turned to leave. As far as I know, he made it to the table.

I watched the eyes of the cashier as she rang up my breakfast. Knowing absolutely nothing about her, I wondered what she was thinking. I wondered what her encounter with the prophet had done for her opinion of the One whom the prophet represented.

 

I wanted to say something but didn’t know what to say. I

started to say, “Me and the prophet there, we are on the same team; we just have two different approaches. Being a Christian doesn’t really mean carrying a rake.”

But before I could think what to say, she’d turned to help someone else. So I turned to leave.

That’s when I bumped into Lawrence. Lawrence is a friend from my church. Bumping into Lawrence is no small matter. He’s an ex-pro football player. Everything about Lawrence is big, and everything about Lawrence is kind. A strong hug from Lawrence can last you a week.

 

And that’s what he gave me . . . a good hug, a warm handshake, and a genuine question about my well-being. Not much, just a couple of minutes of kind concern. Then he went his way and I went mine.

As I was leaving, I was struck by the contrast of the two encounters. Both the prophet and Lawrence are followers of Christ. Both are unashamed of their faith. Both love to carry a Bible. Both like to bless people. But that’s where the similarities end.

 

One wears sandals and a robe, and the other wears tennis shoes and jeans.

One dresses like Jesus, but the other acts like Jesus.

One introduced himself as an ambassador for Christ; the other didn’t have to.

One stirred my curiosity, but the other touched my heart.

 

And something told me that if Jesus were here, in person, in San Antonio, and I ran into him in a grocery store, I wouldn’t recognize him by his rake, robe, and big Bible. But I would know him for his good heart and kind words.

 


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