There is a young man I know that grew up in circumstances most of us can’t imagine. I met Jimmy* for the first time when I was a child at Vacation Bible School. The pastor picked him up each night to come to church. Jimmy wasn’t like the other children. His voice was loud and he couldn’t speak very well, and if he got upset it was very difficult to calm him down. It wasn’t until years later I learned why Jimmy was different. The police had found him at about the age of four being raised in a chicken coop. Jimmy had been there so long that all he knew to do was to peck for food like the chickens. His parents had locked Jimmy and his two sisters in the coop from the time they were very young. Jimmy couldn’t talk at first, but he could crow like a rooster. I can’t imagine what it was like for this young boy to live in such putrid conditions. I’m not sure who told the police about Jimmy, but I do know he eventually went to live with other relatives. Fast forward a few years and now everyone knows Jimmy. He has an obsession with being a police officer. Jimmy rides his bike to all the fire calls and believes he is part of the police squad. The police officers are very good to Jimmy. They even gave him a brand new bicycle. Somebody actually had the audacity to steal Jimmy’s new bike, but luckily it was found and returned to him.
It seems that whenever I go back home, I always run into Jimmy. Jimmy is always kind to me. He runs to open the door, reminds me to wear my seatbelt and tells me to be careful. He calls me his “sweetie”. Jimmy has taught me more about seeing people as Jesus sees them than anyone else I know. While others may see Jimmy as a nuisance and a smelly, stupid and less than valuable human being. I see Jesus. There are many who probably don’t know his story and have never bothered to find out anything about him. Jimmy would help anybody do anything, and Jimmy would be a friend to anyone who asked him to be their friend. He has more love in his heart than many people who have had a way better life than Jimmy ever will. Jimmy gets it! Yes, he may ride his bike down the street shouting obscenities, but the fact is that is very common for a person who has coprolalia. It is a dysfunction of his brain. I’ve heard plenty of people swear who allegedly have nothing wrong with their brain.
Last week as I started my trip back to Maryland I stopped at a little mom and pop shop for a slice of breakfast pizza. On my way in I saw Jimmy and waved. I went back to the counter, grabbed my slice of pizza and headed for the register. Jimmy had come in and grabbed a slice of pizza as well and was going to the register too. I told the cashier that whatever Jimmy had grabbed to eat, I wanted to pay his bill. She bagged my slice and proceeded to tell Jimmy that I had already paid for his breakfast (although I didn’t want her to tell him it was me). Jimmy began to shout over and over that it was his lucky day. Someone in the seating area asked Jimmy if he had won a million dollars. Jimmy said, “No, something better….she just bought my breakfast.” It was at that moment I wanted to cry. Something so simple, yet so profound. Jimmy believed me buying his slice of breakfast pizza and coffee, was better than winning a million dollars.
Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters. Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! Hebrews 13:1-2
As I fight back the tears while I walk out the door, Jimmy runs to open the door for me. He follows me to my car, still saying “Thank you”. Jimmy opens up my car door and grabs my seatbelt, making sure I buckle in for safety. He doesn’t want me to get a ticket. He tells me to be safe and shuts my door. He then puts his silver whistle in his mouth to direct the traffic in the parking lot. He blocks the cars so I can back up and leave the parking lot. I can still hear him telling people it is his lucky day. I look in my rearview mirror and I can see him waving goodbye. I wipe away the tears that are rolling down my cheeks and I thank God for letting me see His JesusGlitter in Jimmy. Jimmy may have thought it was his lucky day, but I was the one who was truly blessed by him.
Who does God want you to reach out to today? Will you listen to that still small voice nudging your heart to be a blessing? A random act of kindness shown towards others always has a way of blessing you more than the person you are trying to bless.
*Jimmy is not his real name, it’s been changed to protect his identity.