There once was an older, destitute man. He had lost his family, his dignity, his work, and all his worldly possessions. The only thing he had left was his faith in God.
One day, he walked along the city sidewalks; homeless as he was. Peering around the city buildings, the passing cars, and sidewalk shoppers – he remembered a time when had the love of his wife, the comfort of home, and the camaraderie of his many friends and successful business partners. Just for one moment, he could feel the love and passion he once used to enjoy. But then he looked up into the sky, and he could see the graying clouds rolling overhead; and the wind began to fly past his ragged shirt sleeves.
Realizing that he was who he was, he knew he had to find shelter before the rains began to fall. Across the street, he saw the old city park that he used to visit when he was just a child. In the far end of the park, he spotted the old gazebo he’d frequented with his high school sweetheart. Suddenly, the rain began to fall. These weren’t just ordinary raindrops – they were hard, heavy, and oversized droplets of water that pelted his head and neck like small stones. His walk turned into a fast run as he struggled to get under the shelter of the gazebo. Shaking off his shirt and wiping the wetness from his cheeks and forehead, the man sat back on the two-seater swing beneath the gazebo. Then he shook his head in disbelief. “Is this what life is all about?” he asked, shaking his fist and peering up toward the grey skies, “What more do you want from me?”
Just then, the sky began to clear and above the skyscrapers, he could faintly see some bright hues of red, purple, pink, and even blue. It was a rainbow; and the sun’s rays began to shine through the break in the clouds. Now sobbing, the man looked back up into the sky, and he asked, “Are You there, God?” But there was no audible reply.
A few moments passed when a park ranger made his way up to the old gazebo, “Top of the day to you, sir,” he said to the man. The man glanced at the ranger as the voice sounded vaguely familiar. Sure enough, the man remembered the park ranger as a friend he once knew many, many years in his past.
“I think I know you,” the man replied to the ranger, “aren’t you Ed from the country store?”
The ranger was slightly taken aback as he too, recognized the man. But the ranger’s name was not Ed; that was his father’s name. “My name is Paul,” said the ranger, stretching out his hand to the man on the swing, “Ed was my father.”
“Oh,” replied the man, “I’m Mark Baker,” he paused to shake Paul’s hand.
The similarities were uncanny, but Mark certainly remembered Ed, and this ranger was the spitting image of him.
“How’d you know my dad?” asked Paul.
“Oh, it was so long ago…you wouldn’t want to hear how we met,” replied Mark.
Taking a couple steps beneath the shelter, Paul said, “Humor me.”
Mark explained that he and Ed had met each other in the local hospital. Mark had gone there to pick up his lab tests where he and Ed had struck up a conversation while they sat in the waiting room. By the time all was said and done, he discovered that he was the perfect match for Ed – the perfect kidney match. “Needless to say,” said Mark, “one thing led to another and we were kidney partners for life.”
“What happened to you?” asked Paul.
“Wall Street called me, greed took me, and I played my last bit of luck,” he replied. Sighing aloud, Mark blinked to clear the water from his eyes, “and then I lost it all.”
“I remember you,” said Paul, then he pulled out a photograph from his wallet, and pointed to two men standing side-by-side by the old country store, “that’s you, and that’s my dad.”
Peering at the old black and white photograph, he could faintly make out the faces of the worn picture, “Sure does look like me, doesn’t it?” asked Mark.
Paul began smiling and he replied, “It is you,” then he took a deep breath, “do you know for how long I have been looking for you?”
Mark simply shook his head, “well, you found me…I wish under better circumstances.”
Just then, Paul placed his hand upon Mark’s shoulder, “I wish my dad would’ve been able to see you again. He talked about you all the time…and especially right before he died,” Paul sighed, “because of you, he was able to watch me graduate and get my high school diploma, and later, he got to hold his newborn grandson – my son.”
“Wow,” Mark replied, “I didn’t realize that one kidney could do all that.”
“You don’t understand, Mark,” said Paul, “when he died, he left you the old country store and the house. It’s been waiting for your return but you never came…until now.”
And suddenly, Mark had received his answer…and his solution to his homelessness. It had been there the whole time but it took him losing everything before he would rediscover the rainbow of hope once again.
Even in your darkest hour, when you ask – God shows up in the most unlikely places.
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Are You There – God?
By CarolAnn Bailey-Lloyd
Also published on Mountain Wings here: Are You There – God?