A devout and sincere woman lived in a small village where she daily prayed, read the Scriptures, and longed to know more about the God. One night, falling into a deep sleep, she had a heavenly dream. In the dream God came to her and said, “My child, I will visit you tomorrow. Be ready for my arrival.”
The woman awoke and immediately began preparing her home for the divine visitation. She cleaned the house from pillar to post; she tended her flowerbeds and small yard; and most importantly, she set to work preparing a delicious meal. She wanted everything to be perfect.
As she was preparing, a young boy arrived from the market, carrying with him a delivery for the elaborate meal she was cooking. He was so captivated by her energy, her busyness, and the smell of the food! He asked questions and tried to taste-test a few of the appetizers for himself, but she shooed him away like he was a pesky fly.
A neighbor came over at midday with the news that her husband had fallen suddenly ill, and she needed help getting him to a doctor. The woman was moved by her neighbor’s plight, but couldn’t assist. “I have an important visitor arriving later today,” she said. “I’m sorry I just can’t go with you right now.”
In the late afternoon a third visitor arrived: A poor teenage girl selling trinkets trying to make enough money for her daily bread. “I have neither time nor money for bric-a-brac today, my dear,” the woman said, “so off with you to some other door.” With that, the woman returned to her enthusiastic preparations.
The hours passed, the afternoon sun dissolved into early evening, and finally the dark of midnight arrived. God was a no-show and had broken his promise. The woman collapsed in anguish and exhaustion, and straightaway cried herself to sleep. It was then that God came to her once again in her dreams.
The woman confronted God bitterly: “My Lord, I waited all day for you! I made the house perfect! I cooked the most inviting meal these hands knew how to prepare! I was ready! Now, I am so disappointed that you did not keep your promise.”
God answered: “My precious child, I visited you today – not once – but three times, yet you did not recognize me. I came as a precocious boy who needed company and conversation more than he needed food. I came as a worried neighbor, afraid of losing her loved one. I came as a teenage girl who asked only for a little time and a few pennies to buy bread.
“I visit you daily, for I am always found in the hungry and the thirsty, with the stranger and the needy, among the sick and the imprisoned. Those with eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to understand will always discover me in the unexpected. They will find me in the least of these.”