He kept coming straight at us. Slow, but steady, until he stopped within four feet. A young, tall and slim man on a yellow bicycle. A rental bicycle from a town that had tremendous damage from the hurricane. Wiped out any bikes we had seen.
He pointed to the shower trailer used by volunteers doing disaster clean-up and rebuilding. In a very soft voice he asked, “Is that still being used?”
When we had arrived to Port St Joe, this specially built shower trailer was being used by 30 or so people doing some very dirty work…ripping out sheet-rock and carpet, mitigating moldy and broken structures, shoveling out smelly seaweed and dead fish. Needless to say, the shower stalls and, actually the whole interior, were disgusting and quite odoriferous.
You could call us clean freaks. Over the last two plus years, we have had to bathe in the most diverse and unusual places which has helped breakdown major germ-a phobia behavior. However, when the grossness extends beyond our comfort level, we’ll clean the bathing areas before exposing ourselves to them.
The last group of volunteers had just left for the holiday week. We now had the shower trailer all to ourselves. L spent two days scrubbing and mopping with bleach. Hours of getting the mildew and grime off of walls and faucets.
For some reason, out of the five shower stalls, L had selected the last shower stall as hers. So, she put a little more attention to sanitizing it. A little more elbow grease.
The new sparkling shower trailer was ready and would be a welcome relief when we finished our tasks today. That’s when the young man on the yellow bicycle drove up.
“Is that still being used?”
I must have had a look of confusion on my face, because he asked a second time.
“Well, yes”, I answered.
He pointed to the pack on his back. “I brought my things.”
“Oh, you want to take a shower?” I asked.
I look at L. We’re both stunned and I can feel my heart kind of sink. We hadn’t had a chance to enjoy the fruits of her labor yet.
A true trooper, L starts walking him over to the trailer. “I’ve got a few cleaning things left in the first stall, but will remove them for you”.
With no emotion or intonation in his quiet voice he says, “That’s okay. I’ll use the last stall”.
My heart sinks just a little more.
She turns on the light switch for him. Shows him how to lock the door. We give each other that ‘it’s going to be alright’ then leaves to help the local Humane Society figure out their computer problems.
I stay at the church to finish a project.
I never saw him leave. The bicycle was gone and so was he.
That’s when Matthew 25.40 came to mind. That’s when it hit me. Jesus came for a shower
Of course, had we known He would be coming, we would have scrubbed and cleaned everything prior to His arrival. Of course, we would have given Him the best, or in this case, the last shower stall. Of course.
When L returns I tell her that I know who that man was. Smiling, I say” It was Jesus.”
She smiles back. She totally gets it.
And the King will answer them. "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me."