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Saturday, March 11, 2017

Deut. 26:16-19: Ps. 119:1-8; Matt. 5: 43-48

I first met him in 2013. He was hawking the St. Pete Times at Kennedy and Dale Mabry.

The thing that struck me about him was his age. He was older, little bit of a stoop, white hair peeking out from under his Buc’s cap.

One Sunday, he was out selling, but in addition to the paper he also held a little cardboard sign.

“I’m 78 years old,” the sign read, “and I’m helping support my daughter and grandson.”

With a sigh, I pulled a dollar out of my wallet and rolled down the window.

“This,” I said, “is for your daughter.”

“Thank you, and God bless.”

Over the ensuing weeks, we made a point of giving him a dollar. We’d exchange a few words, he’d thank us and we’d continue to church.

One evening, after a “trying” day, I was on my way to church, and saw him on the corner.  I fished out a dollar and rolled down the window.

“You ok?” he asked me, “You look kinda tired.”

“I’m a little down today, but it will work out,” I said.

“It will,” he said, “but I’ll say an extra prayer for you tonight.”

“An extra prayer?”

“Oh yeah,” he said.  “I pray a lot.  Life is tough, and sometimes I need some help, so I pray. And every Sunday, I ask Him to bless the couple in the little blue car who are always so nice.”

“Jim,” I said, “My name is Jim.”

“Charlie*,” he replied.

“Thanks for the prayers, Charlie. I really appreciate it.”

“Oh, you’re welcome. We need to look out for each other.”

Indeed, we do. Blessings sometimes come from the most unexpected places.

*Not his real name

–Jim Neill