Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
1 John 3:18
Driving to school, I leave the freeway on the same exit ramp every day, and I’ve seen him before. Looking at his tattered clothes and the battered cardboard sign, I assumed he was homeless. He was there almost every day as I pulled up to the stop light, standing in the blazing heat, the pouring rain, and the bitter cold. His sign read, “God bless you.”
I remember thinking arrogantly, “He’s the one that needs a blessing!”
I was always in a hurry. No time to roll down the window and offer a little bit of money or even tell the man “God loves you.” No time to look him in the eye and acknowledge him. No time, have to hurry on my way. The drivers behind me will honk.
“Maybe next time,” I told myself.
Honestly, I hoped he would move on, and I wouldn’t have to feel that twinge of guilt over a missed opportunity to share.
Then one day, I had to choose: look away or face him. I was the only car at the stop light. He was standing three feet from my window. I could turn my head and not make eye contact and drive away. Or…I could roll down my window and give him all I had.
“OK, God, if the light stays red, I’ll roll down my window,” I breathed out loud.
Miraculously the light stayed red. I rolled down my window while I reached in my purse for a few dollars. I held out my hand, and he approached my car. My heart was pounding.
“Why am I so nervous?” I thought.
The homeless stranger bowed his head to say thank you, took the money and…he touched me.
Yes, his hand touch mine. Actually, he held my hand and looked straight in my eyes. His gaze pierced my heart, and he said, “God bless you.” I couldn’t utter a word. I just shook my head. I can’t be sure what happened, but I began to weep as I rolled up the window and drove away. Still pounding, now my heart was broken.
“Was that Jesus? Did I just encounter Jesus?” I wondered and wept. Jesus works that way, showing up when we least expect it, and I didn’t expect to receive a heart-changing blessing at a stop light on Fair Park Boulevard.
Do the demands of life win your attention and energy more than the people in need standing in front of you? For me, they have, and it took a homeless stranger to refocus my attention.
Jesus teaches in Matthew 25 that when we minister to those who are hungry, thirsty, homeless, naked, sick and in prison, His sisters and brothers, it’s as if we are ministering to Him. (Matthew 25:40 NIV)
I don’t know if, for just a moment, Jesus wasn’t looking me in the eye and piercing my heart, but I know that if I had chosen to look away, I would have missed the opportunity to bless and be blessed.
So many people are in need today. Tragedies and destruction are happening everywhere. More people are hurting now than ever in history. We might feel like we have nothing to offer, that our little bit could not do much.
I considered the same when I avoided the homeless man on the corner. What if he doesn’t use the money wisely? He may not, but I do know God will honor my gift and use it for His will. Remember the little boy with just a couple of fish and a few loaves of bread? The disciples believed they couldn’t make a difference. They did not have what it took to feed so many people. (Matthew 6:30-44) But Jesus did. The meager offering of a willing boy blessed thousands and the disciples were blessed as well. He can do the same with what you offer to the “least of these.”
Today, if you encounter someone, maybe a homeless stranger in need, don’t hesitate. Trust God to meet the needs, give what you have, even if it’s only a smile and kind words. Share the love God has lavished on you.
God bless you.
Father God, forgive us for not recognizing opportunities to share your love and the gifts you have given us. Open our eyes to see the needs of your people. Open our hearts to give all we have for Your will to be done.