May 262016

panhandlingfreeze1As you turn into the little strip mall that harbors the McDonalds here, you must drive past the prime piece of panhandling real estate in town.

There is always someone there, always holding the cardboard sign that briefly describes why they are there and that anything can help.


As usual, there was someone there the other day  when Trey and I drove past to get some morning hashbrowns for him and strong coffee for me.

I usually pay little attention as there is little separating me from holding a sign myself and there’s not much I can do for those who are holding one now.

This beggar caught my eye though.

Actually he didn’t grab my attention, his dog did.

The dog and the beggar both looked as if they had seen better days and were both of questionable parentage.

That dog though…that dog was not embarrassed to be standing alertly and expectantly with his master.

That dog had this look of both unshakable dignity and love for his ragged owner and I saw both of their heads drop when we drove past.

That dog was faithful and good and that dog broke my heart.

We went through the drive up and I was getting ready to pull out and drive past them again on our way out.

That was when Trey remembered the bag.

A couple in our church love Jesus and dogs and because Jesus said they had to love people too, they came up with a great idea.

They would prepare paper bags with a copy of the Gospel of John, a couple healthy snacks, and a couple of 2 dollar bills…and some doggie treats.

When they come upon a homeless person with a dog they bless both of them with one these bags.

We had one in the backseat and Trey scrambled to retrieve it.

“Remember to tell him there is something in it for the dog, too”, I reminded him.

We pulled up next to them and Trey handed the man the bag and delivered the message.

I drove away, watching in my rear view mirror.

What I expected to see was the man rifle through the bag for whatever would help him and give the dog his treats as an afterthought.

What I saw was a man who sought the doggie treats first and his countenance light up as he fished them out of the sack.

Then I saw a man and his dog embrace each other in pure joy.

What I saw was holy.

What I saw blinded me in tears and I had to look away to be able to drive.

I hope that man got something to eat and some encouragement to keep on trying.

I hope he reads that Gospel of John and gets to know Jesus.

I hope he is thankful, not to me or to Trey, or to my wonderful friends that put that bag together…I hope he is thankful to Jesus for giving him that wonderful dog.

God loved him that much…and a God that loves you that much might be a God worth loving back.

Make your own application…


  25 Responses to “TGIF”

  1. Oh my. That is a lovely story. Made me tear up too….

    …”the least of these, my brothers”…. probably includes dogs (and cats). Hope so.

    Love the idea of doggie snacks in the gift bags…. our church is putting together bags of helpful items for the homeless…. I think I’ll mention adding doggie treats.

  2. Thank you, Paige!

    Think about how many times we pass homeless folks on the street with a pet…I love this ministry and it made my week to participate in it.

  3. Once again, you write so beautifully of faith in action.

  4. Thank you, Nonnie…I wanted to do justice to that little dog as much as anything.

  5. Great story.

    The bond between a human and a dog can be indescribable, pure, perhaps offering a glance at something Edenic from the memory muscles of our minds.

  6. Great testimony! Now let’s be honest, that story just would not have had the same impact if it were a cat 🙂

  7. Thanks to you, Michael, we also give out these bags and it’s always the love between the dog and the human that gets to me every time. We always say “Here’s a little something for you and your pup.”

  8. I spoke with a young homeless man who had 2 pit bulls on a make shift leash. He was afraid of getting arrested or of staying at a shelter because he’d loses his dogs, the only friends he had and who kept him safe at night. God bless all three of them.

  9. My middle boy, Nate, has the greatest heart of compassion in our family. He constantly questions why we do not stop and help each person we see. Late last year he made the suggestion of filling up a cooler with water bottles and bags of necessities that we could hand out. The heat here in summer is brutal without some relief. This post reminded me I need to get on that. I will add the dog treats as well.

  10. Great story. Thank you.

  11. Very good – thank you Michael.

  12. Thank you all for the kind words…

  13. We have two kinds of bags, one with dog treats and one with an extra granola bar. Make sure you don’t accidentally give the dog bag to the person who has no dog or the next thing you’ll hear is that in California those heartless Christians are giving dog food to the homeless!

  14. Xenia, just cracked me up… 🙂

  15. The sad irony is that some people who can afford otherwise feed their children food not fit for a pet dog.

  16. this story hits home for a whole lot of us, Michael… to be so broken that pride is gone, to just stand helpless waiting for kindness and yet at your side is a loyal animal friend that takes it for granted that you’re a team and loves you… coincidently i had an interesting Email this morning from someone who couldn’t keep her horse any longer, she concluded that an animal fills a void that man was meant to fill, but doesn’t

    even as i sit here with teary eyes after reading that and coming here to this post here today, i realize that this is a new phenomena – to have such great numbers of needy people that carrying bags at the ready in your car is needed ministry – i am very concerned that we have such a great and growing population that are experiencing a Great Depression in the here and now… that could be my son or grandson standing out there

  17. Em,

    God bless your heart,my friend.

    The thing that keeps me going is when I see that everybody here really “gets” this…and that kind of compassion can change a lot in this world.

  18. What a brilliant idea. I am inspired to do something similar. Thanks for the wonderful story, Michael.

  19. No, I won’t make my own application Michael. This is just a great story on its own, on many levels. Thanks for what you did, and for sharing this lovely story.

  20. Michael, I’m sorry. I’m not a regular here, so I didn’t realize, until just now, that you have a book with that title. Forgive me, I was just being silly, but I fear that what I said came across the wrong way.

    The story was very inspiring, as you can already tell from the comments. It’s funny, so many of us (perhaps it’s just me) think that we have to do something on a grand scale for God. I spend so much time trying to figure out this grand scale project, that I neglect “small” everyday acts like the wonderful one you did. God forgive me.

  21. Alan,

    No worries and I appreciate the kind words!

  22. “A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”

    -Josh Billings

    I see the love of God in my dog. Thank you for this good post.

  23. Wet eyes…

  24. Irish prayer:

    “Dear Lord, please mean me the person my dog thinks I am.”

  25. Oops “make me”

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