As I looked out the window from my third floor hotel room overlooking the parking lot, I notice two cats slinking their way across the lot. One of them obviously was in charge of the two since she or he had the lead. The other followed like a good underling. Not far back, came another cat some distance as if she or he was a subordinate, but not allowed to walk in close proximity to the leader. It was somewhat interesting to watch as they stopped and sniffed tires and pieces of trash, one cat after another. I am no stranger to cats since we have six ourselves. Almost all of them were strays that had no one until we took them in. They too, have a pecking order and they know who is in charge.
Later that night I had to gas up the rental car I was to turn in at the airport the next morning. Being a people person I watched the folks around me fueling up their cars or going in and out of the convenience store. My daughter refers to this activity of watching people as “creeping” and jokingly calls me a creeper when she sees me. For example, the car in front of me was empty and the driver was nowhere around. I thought it was odd how the car was pulled a little too far forward of the pump for gas. I had to almost touch bumpers with it in order for me to reach the gas nozzle to the car.
Across from my gas dispenser, I noticed a young lady who I thought was a little underdressed in the night air of 30 something degrees. She was talking to a man who was fueling his truck. They conversed while she propped over the tailgate of his truck. She must be with him and is about to go into the store, I thought. He never looked at her and had his back to her as he pumped his gas. He shook his head in disagreement with something she said. She smiled and headed for the store, but she never went in. Instead she went to another car to speak to yet another man. Out of the corner of my eye, to my left, I saw another young woman, though older than the first. She was a little more dressed as she had a shawl to keep her warmer.
The driver of the car in front of me came back and began to pump his gas. He had been stopped by the first woman and after a few words they parted ways. She headed out into the parking lot where the second woman was now. The second woman headed for towards the intersection and the younger, first woman followed. She stopped at the intersection and leaned into the passenger side window of a vehicle waiting at the stop light. She conversed with the driver while woman number two leaned against a power pole at the same intersection. They reminded me of the cats who I had seen earlier on the prowl looking for opportunity; human strays that didn’t seem to have a home or fit into society. I finished fueling the car and drove away. In my rear view mirror I saw the younger girl still leaning into the car and the older one was joining her. I thought about how I would have reacted if they had approached me. I had helped a young man at that very same gas station earlier in the month on a similar night. I hadn’t hesitated when he approached. It was almost like God told him to speak to me and God told me to help him and I did. I pray for him often. Maybe God told them I was not worth their time. I smiled at the thought.
Except for the grace of God, I would be like those strays even today. I recognized that grace and accepted it. How many people are offered the love, mercy, and grace God offers and they turn Him down. We are not supposed to keep all that to ourselves. We are to be sensitive to the voice of God and to be Jesus to the world. That means we sometimes are in awkward situations, approached by people who are not like us, and to be ready to touch their lives as God sees fit. If we are not willing to be used, God will not waste His time putting hurting, lost, strays into our lives. It is called Divine Appointments. I am glad Jesus put me in the life of those who reached out to my family when I was young. The second son of a single mother, I for all intents and purposes was a stray, but I didn’t know I was a stray. Jesus said He came to seek and save the lost. He expects us to do the same. If we are not looking for the lost we will never see them and we won’t be able to offer them the salvation from their lostness. Thank God Jesus is in the business of looking for and taking in strays.
If you feel like you have strayed, please click on this link to learn more. Jesus the stray seeker