As I made my way from the parking lot into the Ross store this afternoon, I heard singing & guitar strumming - - one solitary voice that belonged to someone who was, at that time, obscured by the posts in front of the store. As he came into view, I confess I readied & steadied myself for what would surely be begging. I needn't have bothered. He never looked up; and just kept strumming & singing. I went about my business.
For the better part of 30 minutes I made my way through the store. I hadn't intended on stopping at Ross at all this afternoon, but I made a last minute decision to drop in to see if I could find burgundy tree ornaments. They didn't have any. Drats. But I did find new turkey prongs, so the stop wasn't a total waste of my time. I made my way through the check out, then out of the store.
The young guitarist was still sitting on the cold ground with his guitar; quiet now. Out of the corner of my eye (since I was trying my level best NOT to make eye contact with him, lest he beg) it looked like he was trying to warm himself. I continued to my car, giving little thought to the guitarist.
Then I felt something ... A twinge? A touch? A query? I knew at once the Lord was nudging me and, though He rarely speaks to me in sentences, He does leave distinct impressions. I interpreted Him to impress upon me: Would it hurt you to ask the young man about his music?
Odd question, but I wasted no time in turning around and making my way to the boy.
Hi there ... I couldn't help but hear your beautiful voice as I arrived a bit ago. Tell me about your music. I smiled at him then, and was greeted in return by his own large, warm smile. I noticed at once how handsome he was in spite of being poorly clothed and under-dressed for today's cold weather. His wavy light brown hair hung in wisps across his forehead. He made me think of my oldest grandson.
With obvious pride he said: I write all my own music. What would you like to know? Did you hear a song you liked?
Actually, I thought I heard you singing something with a Christian lyric. Whatever it was, it was lovely.
He looked disappointed - - not for himself, but for me. He said I don't really know any Christian songs.
Something about this handsome young man tugged at my heart. I couldn't begin to explain to you now why I stood there having this exchange with him.
As I formed my next question I could see how cold were his hands. He kept pulling them into his jacket sleeves - - a jacket far too small & lightweight to keep the damp from penetrating his bones. He wasn't wearing socks, and his shoes were well worn tennis shoes.
I offered: I imagine your parents are very proud of you; of how accomplished is your voice & guitar playing?
With little hesitation my new friend replied: I don't mean to be disrespectful or crude, m'am, but my parents are pretty krappy (he used a more descriptive term). They don't much care what I do or where I am.
Oh, I see. So are you in school?
No ... but I am working on my G.E.D. I'm working really hard at it too.
So how old are you?
16. I'm just 16.
I then noticed that people had dropped change, or a dollar or two into his guitar case. I put some money there myself as I asked him his name.
Andrew, before I leave, may I pray for you? It seemed such a meager gesture, but I felt prompted to proceed.
I'd like that, came his immediate response.
I stooped to the ground where he was sitting and wrapped my right arm around him. I bowed my head and began ...
Father, thank you for Andrew. Thank you for gifting him with such an amazing voice, and such a heart for song. We know You are all about music, and that the entire universe sings of your glory, so I ask that you reveal to Andrew how great a gift You've given him because of Your love for him, and because of the purpose you have for his life. I ask that You protect & guide him, delivering him with Your salvation. Fill him with great joy & a sense of belonging that You alone give. Call him to Yourself that he would understand how valuable and loved he is. Make a way for him where there seems to be no way.
I ask, too, Father that you touch Andrew's mother & father. Draw them to Yourself and save them. Give them a sense of their value, and their son's. Heal the broken places in this family.
Thank you for Your goodness & love. Keep Andrew in your sights & care.
In Jesus name I ask this. Amen
Throughout the prayer people came & went dropping change into Andrew's guitar case. One woman came & remained, standing in silent prayer herself.
As I stood to leave, my new young friend looked up at me and said: Thank you. That means more to me than you can know.
I could no longer speak for the lump in my throat. I simply nodded, waved and walked away; but ... oh, how I wanted to take that boy home!
An unintended stop. A nudge. An appointment with destiny. I'm having trouble keeping it together.
Andrew. It derives from Greek and means "man, warrior". Somehow I knew that.
Photo: Google Stock