When one of my friends moved away from DuPage County, he told me that one thing he didn’t like about living here was that no one just dropped by to say hi.
He grew up in Michigan, where, he said, people commonly just stopped by and knocked on a friend’s door. It wasn’t scheduled. There was no agenda but to say hi. The door opened. Food and talk was shared—just a normal part of life.
When he told me, I had to admit that I guessed it was true.
I generally don’t just knock on someone’s door unannounced, even if it’s a close friend. There have been times when I’ve knocked on my neighbor’s door, but there’s a reason: mail put in the wrong box, a jar of ice cream sauce at Christmas, a gift for their daughter’s First Communion. We’ll visit across the fence or when we’re both shoveling snow. We’ve shared barbecues or parties with them, but it’s always been planned.
So I’m not what anyone might think of as spontaneous when it comes to people dropping by or us dropping by unannounced.
I do recall one time when there was a knock on my door.
It was Sunday. The delayed timer on our oven made it possible for us to roast a chicken while we were at church. We could come home and take most everything out of the oven and refrigerator and sit down to a very nice Sunday lunch in no time.
So it was one of those Sundays when the knock happened.
We had just sat down. Sparkling water with a slice of melon. Golden chicken. Knock. Roasted potatoes. Knock, knock. Green salad. French green beans. Knock, knock, knock. Who could that be? Knock, knock, knock, knock.
Not wanting to be separated from my food, I sighed. I got up from the table and opened the door.
A man was on the other side. I had never seen him before. He wasn't selling anything. He asked for the former owners of the house—actually, two owners before us. We happened to know the couple. I explained that they no longer lived in the home. They had moved away.
Visibly disappointed, the man looked downward, somewhat crestfallen and said nothing.
Now I had a choice. Do I close the door on him?
With the smells of what seemed to me to be a delectable Sunday meal awaiting for me, I thought to myself, What if this man is Jesus in disguise?
I didn’t mean it literally, but I did think of the Scriptures.
So the words came out of my mouth, “We’re just sitting down to lunch. Would you like to join us?”
Did I really just say that?
He looked up, his countenance changing for the better and walked through our door.
Lorraine quickly set another place at the table.
He was hungry. As we ate, he told us his story, and it was a hard one. He was out of work, had no car, was living in a motel on Roosevelt Road that rented by the week and his week was coming to an end. From many years before, when he lived in the Wheaton area on a more permanent basis, the previous owners had befriended him. We knew them from College Church and it was clear from what he said that they had a godly touch of grace with him.
On that Sunday, he was just passing through, headed to what he hoped would be a job that might lead to a place to live and a settling down. He walked the several miles from the motel where he was staying to our home in the hopes of reconnecting with his friends from the past. We told him about our lives, too, and got to talk about faith. Jesus is good, he agreed.
Instead of reconnecting with old friends, I guess he got to make some new friends that day—Lorraine and me. After a leisurely meal, one that lasted longer than normal, with dessert and coffee served one after the other, in the Russian style, we prayed with him, and he prayed with us.
I drove him back to his motel and did my best to help him with a little more. He said thank you. We shook hands and looked in each other’s eyes. I told him I would pray for him.
Years have gone by. I’ve never seen him again.
But you know what? That man blessed us. I’m glad I didn’t close the door. To share our stories, enjoy a meal together and spend time in prayer transformed the afternoon into a sacred time together. People matter.
I think of him at Sunday dinner fairly often. And sometimes, on Thanksgiving, I wonder where he’s at this year.
Who is knocking on the doors of my life this year? Will I open the door?
…thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
For he satisfies the longing soul,
and the hungry soul he fills with good things.