“OK, OK, I’ll go help!” Meredith slowly turned her car around, watching for patches of ice and blinking back tears. She had been looking forward to Thanksgiving dinner for months and now the storm had ruined everything with icy roads and slow traffic. It was five o’clock and she was still three hours from home.
And to make matters worse she had passed that stupid sign. It was a hand-written sign swinging under the announcement of a 6:00 Thanksgiving dinner at the mission. “Serving Help Needed” it had said.
So here she was, headed away from home and back toward the mission. “But I don’t want to help at a homeless shelter, Lord,” she grumbled. “I’m supposed to be giving thanks with my family on Thanksgiving Day.”
“In every thing give thanks.”
“But how can I give thanks for a storm that is keeping me from my family?” She saw the lights for the mission and slowly turned in. Tromping to the door, she knocked, her gloves making a dull thud.
The door opened and a man peered out. “Can I help you?”
Meredith sighed. “The sign said you needed help serving?”
The man almost yanked her inside in his exuberance. “Yes! Praise God.” Hustling her down a hall and into a dining room, he called, “Mary! Someone’s come to help.”
A large woman barreled out of the kitchen. “Thank you, God!” she bellowed. “Samuel, take her coat.” The lady ducked back into the kitchen and came back with a huge white apron. “We had a whole passel of people set up to come help tonight, but with the bad weather and all they didn’t show.”
Then Meredith found herself bustling about, listening to Mary’s chatter as she stirred the massive pot of potatoes and set the tables.
“They’re having the Thanksgiving service in the next room right now.” Samuel told her. “Pretty soon it’ll be finished and everyone will come in here.”
As Meredith worked, she found herself humming along with the music coming from the next room.
When people started straggling in for the meal Meredith wasn’t sure what to expect. But although the people were scraggly and unshaven almost everyone told her “thank you” as she plopped steaming piles of potatoes on their plates next to the thick slices of ham. Many chatted with her, too.
The room was mostly quiet and the three servers gulped some food of their own before people began returning for seconds. It didn’t seem like much of a Thanksgiving to Meredith.
Meredith was gathering the leftover food when she heard a whistle. A lady motioned for Meredith to come closer. “You know,” the lady began, “I almost didn’t come in here today. I mean, eating Thanksgiving dinner with a bunch of other smelly homeless people didn’t sound like much fun.” Meredith knew how she felt. The woman continued, “But I poked my head in here and saw you setting the tables and singing away and I thought maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. So I went in and heard the last part of the preacher guy’s talk. You know, I haven’t thought much about God for a long time, but that guy made me really think.” She paused, then touched Meredith’s arm. “And then I saw you crying a little when you were eating and I thought of my daughter. She’s about your age, a little older prob’ly. And I got to wondering if maybe she was crying right now ‘cause she didn’t know where her Momma was.” The lady glanced away. “I’m thinking maybe I should give her a call. You know, just let her know I’m all right.”
Meredith smiled. “I have a cell phone you could use.” Hurrying to find her purse in the kitchen, Meredith brought it back to the table, digging to find the phone. “How long has it been since you’ve talked to her?”
“Oh, about two and a half years, I suppose. She doesn’t know where I am.” The lady looked a little nervous as she dialed and gripped the phone tightly. “Hello, Katie? This is your Mom.”
As Meredith moved away to give her privacy, it occurred to her that there was someone she needed to talk to, also. “Lord, I’m sorry I had such a rotten attitude. Thank you for the ice storm. . .”
Scripture used is 1 Thes. 5:18a, King James Version
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