We stood in front of the Little Free Library perusing the books. As we flipped through the selections, we were also busy munching on frozen Dilly Bars. We'd just picked them up prior to stopping at the book box. Although it was a chilly day, the treat sounded too good to pass up, especially since it was dairy free.
A few minutes later, I heard a male voice saying, "Ma'am? Ma'am." Turning to see who was speaking to us, I noticed a black man standing on the sidewalk. His appearance indicated he was either homeless or very down on his luck. A tattered jacket, unkempt hair, and dirty clothing spoke volumes. As he leaned on his walking stick, I offered a greeting. In a soft voice, he said, "I sure am hungry. I could use a chicken dinner or something." At that very moment my heart broke. I hadn't brought my purse with me and didn't have a dime to my name. My daughter had purchased our ice cream and she didn't have any other money on her person either. Instantly, I apologized and then, doing the first thing that came to mind, I held out the rest of my ice cream bar (which was about half eaten) and said, "Sir, if you'd like to have it and if you wouldn't mind eating after me, I'll be more than happy to give you my ice cream." He refused and smiled. As he turned his body to move up the sidewalk, I glanced down at his shoes. He was wearing old brown work boots and his shoes were untied, the laces dragging on the ground. I don't know why, but I had the strongest urge to go over to him, kneel in front of him, and tie his laces for him but before I could make my way over to him, He was gone! My daughter and I stood dumbfounded between the book box and the sidewalk. Neither of us had seen him leave.
Did we have an angel encounter? We're not sure. But what I do know is this - I felt horrible that I wasn't able to help the man in any way. Yes, I was kind to him, but I didn't do anything to meet his physical need. He was hungry and wanted money for food, but I had none to give him. I felt silly afterward having offered him a half-eaten ice cream bar, but it was all I had.
As my daughter and I left the area, I told her I was going to make a point of being prepared in case I ever faced a situation like that again.
Was the man an angel with skin on? I don't know. Or was he just a guy in search of quick money to buy a bottle of liquor or drugs? I have no idea. I prefer to think he was an angel because of his quick disappearance. If we'd thought quickly, we could have offered to go and buy the man food with my daughter's bank card, but before we had the chance to process the encounter, he was gone.
Maybe God allowed that quick meeting to test our hearts - to see if our motives were pure, or maybe He used the meeting to prompt us to realize how blessed we are. I'm sure we'll never truly understand but it did make us think.
All the way home I felt horrible. I'm a fixer at heart - a fixer with the gift of mercy. Being unable to help the man bothered me terribly.
I still wonder why I was fixated on his untied boots and why I felt the need to kneel in front of him and tie his laces. It was the strangest feeling.
One day, when I get to heaven, I'm going to ask God about that day. I'm sure He'll have a perfect explanation for me, and I'll look forward to hearing the details.
I've had several encounters with angels unawares in the past so I don't doubt the man could have been an angel. In each past event, God has allowed me to cross paths with someone in need. In many of the cases, I was able to help but in some of them, I was the one who received the blessing. I guess this meeting was a teaching moment reminding me to always be ready in season and out of season. I'd have loved to have talked to the man about Jesus, but I didn't get the chance because he disappeared so quickly. And if my daughter hadn't been with me to see him too, I wouldn't have believed it.
Many people don't believe in angels being here on Earth. I believe God allows them to take on human form when necessary. Sometimes He uses them to comfort us, to bring a word of encouragement, or for other reasons only He understands and ordains. If you've never experienced an angel encounter, perhaps one day you will. Believe me when I tell you, you won't see wings peeking out from underneath their clothing. They look like regular folks, just like you and I. The best advice I can give is to treat them with love and kindness. Listen closely and ask God for discernment. The encounters are rare, but always for a reason.