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  • Writer's pictureBeth Hildebrand

What a homeless man taught me at Subway |Wait and See Day 16


It was 5:30pm.  I was sitting in Subway restaurant by myself in my own little world.  My daughter was a block away at dance class.  There’s no point in going all the way back home for an hour class so for a few months, that’s been my hang-out place for 45 minutes.

I’ve bought a drink, found a table and opened my book.  I read, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.  To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” (Revelations 2:7)

“Eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God…”

I gaze out the window imagining.


Then, out from no where it seemed, a man was standing outside the glass-wall window.  He wore dark, baggy pants that were frayed at the bottom overlaying grungy, old tennis shoes and an army green type of jacket that looked like it had been in a trunk in the attic for years.  His hair was matted and must not have been washed for who knows how long.

He stopped right in front of me and looked me in the eye.  They were big, dark eyes.

“Eat from the tree of life…” the Spirit whispers.


In that convicting moment, I close my book, put it in my bag and walk up to the sandwich station and tell the server I’d like a 6 inch sub please.  I asked for it to be made with the basics – meat, lettuce and tomato with mustard and mayo – and then swiped my card to pay for the sub.

The man at the register must have been watching me earlier because I think he knew I had not ordered that sub for myself. He asked me, “Is this sub for the man outside?”

“Yes.” I said with a meek smile.

“Yeah.  He’s homeless and walks these sidewalks every day.  He says he has a heart problem and he often speaks of ghosts.”

I thank him for making the sub and for letting me know about this man outside the glass window.

I walk out into the cool, March evening as the sun is getting lower.  Why was I so nervous?

The man was whispering words I couldn’t understand.  Was he talking to ghosts?  As I got closer,  I knew the Holy Ghost had to be with me.

“Eat from the tree of life…”

I take a short inhale because the foul smell coming from the man was strong.  “Sir” I said.  Those big eyes of his look in my eyes again.

Did I see Jesus?

“Here’s a sub for you to eat.  I hope you’ll enjoy it.”  He says, “Thank you, ma’am.”

And I wanted to say something with detail about Jesus that gave him hope and went straight to his heart.  Maybe a Bible verse that encouraged him and he could remember when it’s really needed.  Maybe words that help him understand what it’s like to have a relationship with God.

And what did I say?  All that comes out of my mouth was, “Jesus loves you.”

What?  Why was that the only thing I could think to say?  Then a bread truck pulls up and parks in front of us.  The driver gets out and starts unloading bread for Subway and struck up a conversation with the homeless man like they knew each other.  Maybe it was the first time they’d seen each other.  Maybe not.  But why couldn’t I have been like that?

My heart hurt.  It hurt because I felt inadequate in words.  It hurt even more for him because he had a heart problem.  His heart may have had trouble beating.  Had he invited God’s Spirit to live in his heart that made it beat with the feeling of being loved?

Maybe those three words I said to him soaked through that bread as he ate that sub that evening.

Eat from the tree of life…”

I’m trusting that’s all I needed to say:  “Jesus loves you.”

Those three words are simple, yet powerful and Truth – especially when spoken to someone who doesn’t necessarily elaborate with words in a blog like someone I know. (Yes, myself)

The only word anybody really needs is JESUS.   Jesus.  The soul food anybody really needs is the Bread of Life.

Jesus, the Bread of Life loves you.

The next time I eat a sub may I remember that.


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