Guide My Feet

An uncle once told me that college is the most fun you will ever have your life with no money.  This was true for me when I was getting my undergraduate degree from Georgia State University.  I loved my time at Georgia State, not just because I enjoyed the classes and as an English major got to read some of the most amazing works imaginable.  I enjoyed Georgia State most of all because my lunch hour.

Walking to and from class every day I found myself greeted by three or four homeless people who, over time, I came to know.  We became friends and they would meet me at the bottom of the stairs by the parking deck and walk with me to class each day.  I am not sure why they did this, but I appreciated their company and came to value our friendly banter back and forth.  Then one day they told me that they had missed the food service line at the local shelter the day before, and they were hungry.  They weren’t asking me to feed them. It was just a statement of reality, and they said that they needed to make sure that afternoon that they made it to the shelter on time.

I sat thinking about them throughout the morning as I went from class to class.  There we were reading Emily Dickinson and Chaucer, but I couldn’t think about anything except the fact that my friends were on the street is a few hundred feet away from me, and they were hungry.  It is funny how relationships change us. At the very least, they make us care.

That afternoon on my lunch break I walked over to a local fast-food restaurant that was just on the corner of the campus.  I am sure today something like this would be illegal, but I talked to the manager and explained that I had some friends who are hungry, and I wondered if we could take any food that he would otherwise throw out and just two days a week meet here and share that food together for lunch. He agreed and thus began the oddest street ministry on the campus of Georgia State University.

I shouldn’t say that I had favorites, but if I did, Fred was it.  Fred had been living on the streets for at least five years. He had a common life story of blown opportunities, drug addiction and broken relationships, but Fred had paid attention to his life. He is to this day, one of the wisest men I have ever known.  He has known suffering and dark places within his own soul that I have never known.  What touched me so deeply was that he would hold my hand and share them with me. He would come to the end of the story, pat me on the shoulder and say, “It’s all good today, child. As long as I let him, Jesus guides my way.”

It didn’t occur to me until later that Fred never missed lunch because he knew that we needed him to provide the benediction.  As we finished our lunches together, he would start singing in his beautiful baritone voice:


Guide my feet while I run this race.

Guide my feet while I run this race.

Guide my feet while I run this race,

For I don’t want to run this race in vain.

Where is God guiding your feet these days? As I think back to that time of my life, I give thanks for such a saint. And I wonder, what more can I do to ensure that I am not running in vain.

We are all in this together,


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