The Letter

The Letter
Joyce Fallon

Ruth looked at the envelope again. There was no stamp, no postmark, only
her name and address. She read the letter one more time.

Dear Ruth,

I’m going to be in your neighborhood Saturday afternoon and I’d like to
stop by for a visit.

Love always,


Her hands were shaking as she placed the letter on the table. “Why would
God want to visit me? I’m nobody special. I don’t have anything to offer.”

With that thought, Ruth remembered her empty kitchen cabinets. “Oh my
goodness, I really don’t have anything to offer. I’ll have to run down
to the store and buy something for dinner.”

She reached for her purse and counted out its contents. Five dollars and
forty cents. “Well, I can get some bread and cold cuts, at least.” She
threw on her coat and hurried out the door.

A loaf of French bread, a half-pound of sliced turkey, and a carton of
milk … leaving Ruth with a grand total of twelve cents to last her
until Monday. Nonetheless, she felt better as she headed home, her
meager offerings tucked under her arm.

“Hey lady! Can you help us, lady?” Ruth had been so absorbed in her
dinner plans, she hadn’t even noticed two figures huddled in the
alleyway – a man and a woman, both of them dressed in little more than rags.

“Look lady, I ain’t got a job, ya know, and my wife and I have been
living out here on the street and, well, now its getting cold and we’re
getting kinda hungry and, well, if you could help us, lady, we’d really
appreciate it.” Ruth looked at them both.

They were dirty, they smelled bad and, frankly, she was certain that
they could get some kind of work if they really wanted to. “Sir, I’d
like to help you, but I’m a poor woman myself. All I have is a few cold
cuts and some bread and I’m having an important guest for dinner tonight
and I was planning on serving that to Him.”

“Yeah, well, OK lady, I understand. Thanks anyway.”

The man put his arm around the woman’s shoulders, turned and headed back
into the alley.

As she watched them leave, Ruth felt a familiar twinge in her heart.

“Sir, wait!” The couple stopped and turned as she ran down the alley
after them. “Look, why don’t you take this food. I’ll figure out
something else to serve my guest.”

She handed the man her grocery bag.

“Thank you, lady. Thank you very much!”

“Yes, thank you!” It was the man’s wife, and Ruth could see now that she
was shivering.

“You know, I’ve got another coat at home. Here, why don’t you take this

Ruth unbuttoned her jacket and slipped it over the woman’s shoulders.
Then smiling, she turned and walked back to the street, without her coat
and with nothing to serve her guest.

“Thank you, lady! Thank you very much!”

Ruth was chilled by the time she reached her front door, and worried,
too. God was coming to visit and she didn’t have anything to offer Him.
She fumbled through her purse for the door key. But as she did, she
noticed another envelope in her mailbox.

“That’s odd. The mailman doesn’t usually come twice in one day.”

She took the envelope out of the box and opened it.

Dear Ruth,

It was so good to see you again. Thank you for the lovely meal. And
thank you, also, for the beautiful coat.

Love always, God

The air was still cold, but even without her coat, Ruth no longer noticed.

“And if anyone gives (even) a cup of cold water …” (Matt. 10:42).