I've always wondered if Jesus walks around in ordinary clothes, seeing how we treat people. It's a common wonder as a Christian. I've always wondered more after the experience I'm about to share.
My senior year of high school, I worked at the local McDonald's. Cottage Grove is a small town, but I-5 runs right through the town and is a convenient stop for travelers, and the first with several amenities in either direction, especially for travelers headed North. Thus, the only jobs for teenagers in Cottage Grove seems to be fast food. I didn't mind terribly working at McDonald's, even though we were insanely busy most nights. Being a freeway stop, we saw a number of travelers. Those from sports teams, greyhound bus passengers, truckers, and vagrants.
The night was one of those insanely busy nights. I was working the front counter and we had all four registers going, filling orders and moving at a very fast pace. The lobby was full and no matter how many people we served, there always seemed to be a crowd waiting. I noticed a man standing off to the side of the crowd. He swayed back and forth as he stood, wringing his hands, disconnected from the world around him. His clothes were not clean, his hair tangled, his face deeply tanned. I watched him while I filled a few orders, trying to figure our what he needed. The next chance I got, I motioned for him to come over to my register.
He approached with his head down, shuffling his feet as he walked. He mumbled as he ordered, with few comprehensible words. I worked with him trying to figure out what he wanted. Being a natural teacher, I always have had the tools to figure out how to know what people need, to help them express what they want. After a few minutes of working with him, I figured out what he wanted, a cheeseburger and french fries. He painstakingly counted out his money, mumblings as he did so. As I filled his order, I noticed him furiously scribbling on a piece of paper. I handed him his order. He lifted his head, and seem transformed... his clothes seemed less disheveled, his hair less tangled. He said to me, clearly, with confidence, "Thank you so much, God bless, this is for you". I looked at the piece of paper, and a few bible verses were on it as well as his name. The writing was clear and perfect, just as his last words to me. It was as if my kindness and patience transformed him. I had to take a moment to myself, as all of it seemed so surreal. I asked my coworkers if they had seen what had happened, and none of them had seen the man. As I had worked with him for several minutes, and he stood there, writing, which was unusual, I would have expected someone to notice, but no one did. It was if it was an experience just for me.
I still to this day wonder about that experience.