Did you ever hear a story so many times, you thought it was true? This is one of those times…
Since both of my grandfathers were preachers, and both of grandmothers were devoted preachers wives, I have no idea which of the four of them I heard this story from. What I do remember is that it has stuck with me my entire life. I honestly thought it was a Bible story until I was talking to my pastor and trying to get her to remember this particular Bible story. She had no idea what I was talking about so when I got home I began searching so I could send it to her. Well, as you can imagine, the story I remembered so fondly was not a Bible story at all.
I found several versions of the story I remember, but settled on the one below which I found at Gospel Message.net published by Thomas W. Woody.
When Jesus Comes To Visit
Long ago, there lived a very righteous man. He prayed every morning when he arose from bed. He prayed at midday when he ate his meal. He prayed every evening just before retiring to bed. In all of his prayers, he wanted the Lord to visit his house, so he could look upon the Lord’s face and to serve him.
One cold dark night with a snow storm raging outside, the man knelt as usual and said his prayer. He crawled into bed and covered up. As he lay there a voice came to him, saying that the LORD would visit this house tomorrow. Needless to say that there was no more sleeping for that night. He arose to prepare his house to meet the LORD. He prepared a meal fit for a king. Then he dressed in his finest clothes.
As he looked around to see if everything was in order and ready for the Lord, the dawn was just arriving. As he was sitting there thinking about the visit of the Lord and wondering at what time the Lord would come, a knock came on the door. At last the Lord had come, he could look upon the Lord’s face and serve Him
He rushed to the door to throw it wide open to welcome the Lord. As the door opened there stood an old man. The old man was dressed in rags, with rags wrapped around his feet. The old man was bent over, and walked with a cane. The old man said, “Sir, I am cold and hungry. I wonder if I may come in and sit by the fire and have a bite to eat?” The man stood there in shock at first because he had been expecting the Lord. Then he said “Come in, sit by the fire, the Lord is to come to this house today and I have prepared a meal for Him, but I am sure that the Lord would not care if I gave you some of it. There is plenty.” So he prepared a place at the table for the old man. As the old man ate, the man noticed the condition of the old man’s clothing. The old man told that he had been on a long journey but he was getting close to the end. The old man said that he had neither time nor money to purchase better clothes. The man said “I have a good warm coat that I have no need of and a good pair of shoes to keep your feet warm.” The old man accepted the gifts, thanked the man, blessed the house and departed.
The man again straightened his house to accept the Lord. When he had finished, it was about midday. The man was beginning to wonder when the Lord was going to arrive because the day was half over. At that moment there was a knock on the door. Again the man rushed to the door to welcome the Lord. He threw open the door, there stood a woman with a heavy load of wood on her back. The woman said, “Sir, I am tired and cold. May I come in and sit by the fire and rest?” The man welcomed her and helped her put down her heavy load. He sat her by the fire and prepared a place at the table for her. As they talked she told him that she was a widow, with several children. She just lived down the road. It had snowed the night before so she had set out early to find wood to heat with. The snow made the job take longer than usual and not wanting to have to search for wood soon again, she had collected more than she should have carried. The man told her that after she had rested and warmed that he would divide the load and help carry it to her house, which he gladly did. Upon seeing her safely home he hurried back to his house in case the Lord had arrived. When the man arrived home, the Lord was not there. The man sat his house back in order for the Lord.
When he finished, it was getting dark outside. The man said to himself, “The Lord said that he would visit this house today and the day is almost over. I so wanted to look upon his face and to serve Him.” At that moment there came a knock upon the door. At last the LORD has come. He rushed to the door, threw it open. There stood a small boy, crying. The boy said “Sir, I am lost and I am cold.” The man replied, “Come in, come in!”. He sat the boy by the fire and prepared a place at the table for him. The boy told that he had went out to play in the snow, but the darkness caught him and that he did not know the way home. Upon learning the boy’s name the man said, “I know where you live and I will take you home, as soon as you are warm.” The man saw the boy safely home. The parents wanted to entertain the man for his good deed, but the man told them that the Lord was to visit his house today and he wanted to hurry home in case the Lord had arrived.
When the man arrived home, it was dark and the Lord was not there. The man set about straightening up so he could go to bed. The Lord was not coming. He knelt to pray as usual. He asked the Lord why He had tarried. “You said that you would visit this house today and I so wanted to look upon your face and to serve you. A voice came to him saying, “Three times I knocked on your door, three times you took me in, you sat me by the fire and prepared a place at the table for me. Three times you served me, you gave me warm clothes, you helped me bear a heavy load, you saw me safely home when I was lost.”
I hope this story inspires you to remember that Jesus comes to visit in a variety of ways, all we have to do is keep our hearts open to see him.
Hugs & Blessings,