The new coat

December 1, 2015 - 11:54am -- Living City

The new coat
Finding the best way to love my neighbor

Sometimes i help out at a homeless shelter for a few hours. While there one frigid day, I noticed a man named James wearing a coat that he could not close well, because it had a broken zipper. I tried to fix it but quickly saw that I could not. I thought of giving him one of my coats, but when I looked at my two older coats, they had missing buttons, a broken zipper or paint on them. My main winter coat seemed too big for him, since he was shorter and thinner than me and probably would not have liked the
puffy sleeves.

I mentioned James’ need for a coat to a few friends, thinking someone else would have something suitable, but nothing turned up. While thinking of my next step, the Word of Life came to mind, and it reminded me to keep trying to find a solution for Jesus in my neighbor.

My sister told me about a charity that gives away winter coats, so James and I went and waited in line for an hour and a half, only to learn that they had no winter coats left.

The next day it occurred to me that for anyone else I would give them a new coat. So I started looking. My sister found a bargain price on a good coat, so I bought one for him. I placed it in a Christmas gift bag and left it a few blocks away in the office of the shelter director, where I intended to bring James to surprise him. It’s a nice quiet place. Three times before leaving the shelter, he turned around and said he did not want to go to the other building, but with some coaxing we finally made it. The coat fit perfectly, and he just kept smiling and thanking me.

As I helped him to put on the coat, I heard a spiritual sounding song playing in the director’s office that I had never heard before. The only words that registered were, “Your gift is a gift of love.” It made me pause for a second in wonder. Then we went out to lunch to celebrate Christmas.

— J. K., Pennsylvania