No takers AND a dog peed on my sign
It’s rare that I get fewer than five people who ask for a blessing during my stint on the sidewalk. I’ve been doing this roughly once a week for almost three years. Two was my lowest number until a few weeks ago, when I got exactly zero takers. Plenty of smiles, nods and the occasional “good morning,” but not one person who stopped. It was a blow, I have to admit. I was feeling a little sorry for myself as I waited out the last few minutes of my half-hour shift. Then a dog walked up to my “Ask me for a blessing” sign and peed on it! It was a very quick mark of territory, and the owner seemed too stunned to pull his dog away. He mumbled something unintelligible and hurried on, clearly embarrassed. But maybe it was only unintelligible because I was laughing so loudly. God must have been telling me to lighten up, and it had worked. No pity parties allowed in this ministry. The next week, I was out there again and a woman told me, “I saw you last Tuesday and was too timid to say anything; I’m glad you’re back.” Then she proceeded to tell me her prayer request. This is not an uncommon occurrence. The consistency of offering blessings at the same time in the same place week after week means that some people take time to warm up to the idea of talking to me before actually doing it. So I’m not surprised when someone says they’ve seen me here before. That said, the next person who stopped caught me totally off guard. It was the guy with the dog! I’m not sure I would have recognized either of them had they kept on walking. But he felt the need to apologize, which gave us a chance to laugh and chat. Then he told me how much he appreciated the church’s flag hanging right above us. It has a large cross and the verse, “I am with you always.” Matthew 28:20. It’s a beautiful reminder of Jesus’ ongoing presence in the world, in our hearts and by our sides. I imagine many, many people have drawn comfort from that flag as they’ve passed by the church. I still do, after looking up at it hundreds of times. Once the man and his dog had moved along, I thought about how God uses us even when we don’t realize it. The sight of someone or something bearing witness to God’s love can lift another person's spirits and encourage their faith. So what if I have a day when no one asks me for a blessing? Just being out there might be enough. If even one person sees me with my sign and thinks, “Oh, how nice,” or better yet, “Maybe I’ll pray today,” then to God be the glory. Matthew 28:20 comes on the heels of the Great Commission “to go and make disciples of all nations.” (28:19). It’s a big job, and we’re all in it together. May Christ bless even the smallest steps we take to further discipleship - our own and others' - knowing that he's with us to the end of the age.