The dark, gray skies overhead threatened an early snow. Rushing shoppers, all bundled up to ward off the cold, crowded the sidewalks, lost in their to-do list for Thanksgiving.
Oblivious to their surroundings, no one noticed a small, shivering boy standing in front of the shoe store, his nose pressed against the window, barely dressed and only flip-flops on his dirty feet.
However, one man did see him and stopped, dead still in his tracks, causing others to bump into him. He didn’t notice the bumps and grumblings, but he did notice the small boy because he had a son about the same age.
Thinking how he would feel if this were his son standing there, barely clothed, the man quietly slid next to the boy, the man stood there for a moment, and then said, “They have some nice shoes here, don’t they?”
“Yeah,” came the soft reply.
“Which ones do you like?”
“That pair over there…the cool running ones.”
“Oh, I’ll bet you could run fast in those.”
“Yes sir. I sure could. Like the wind!”
“You know, I have a little boy just about your age.”
“Oh, yeah? I’ll bet he has shoes like that.”
“Yes, as a matter of fact, he does. But I have an idea.”
“Yeah? What’s that?”
“How ‘bout I take you into the store and buy you that pair of shoes?”
The boy stood there motionless. After a few moments, with tears in his eyes, he looked up at the man. “You want to buy me shoes?”
“I sure do. Your feet must be freezing and I’d love to buy them for you.”
The boy couldn’t speak another word.
The man took the boy by the hand and walked into the store. Finding the manager, the man described the pair of shoes and asked the manager to please get a pair in the boy’s size, along with some socks. Then, he said he and the boy would be in the restroom and would he please bring the shoes and socks in there.
The manager gathered the shoes and socks and, upon entering the men’s restroom, found the man on his knees washing the young boy’s feet.
“Can’t stick dirty feet into clean, new socks and shoes, now can we?”
The young boy just stared at the man as he lovingly washed away all the accumulated street-dirt and gently dried his feet.
Feeling he was intruding on a very special moment, the manager quietly placed the shoes and socks on the floor without saying a word and backed out of the restroom.
After placing the socks and shoes on the boy’s feet, the man stood up, and with hands on his hips, said, “Okay. Let’s see how they look. Walk around.”
The little boy couldn’t move. He stared down at his feet that felt glued to the floor. He looked up, tears now streaming down his little face, and said, “Mister, are you Jesus?”
The boy’s words took the man’s breath away. So overcome with emotion, the man could barely speak. Finally, he muttered, “No, son, I’m not. But I know Him very well. And this is a gift from Him.”
“This is the greatest Thanksgiving ever. Would you tell Jesus thank you for me?”
“Well, let’s go for a walk and I’ll tell you how you can do that yourself.”