Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Chance Encounter

Native American
Down on luck
Donations and Food Appreciated
God Bless You

I slowed to read the words scrawled on a cardboard sign as I passed the man. His clothes looked worn and his scraggly hair was falling from the loose braid. I didn't dare make eye contact. That would be too heart-wrenching. But I glanced long enough at his face to make the assumption that joy had been depleted from his life. For whatever reason he said he was "down on his luck," I believed him.

I was in conflict. My heart wanted to stop but the morning rush of traffic in front and behind me were not going to let me pass up the green light ahead of us. Forward motion was the only option despite the twinge in my heart. 

I was immediately overcome with emotion. I felt guilty for the banana I had inhaled in the car and the iced mocha I had been sipping. I knew the only thing I could do in that moment was pray for him. For provision. For God's presence to be felt. For his needs. For his soul. 

I went about my day and admit that the busyness it brought caused me to forget all about the morning encounter. Until I was headed back to the office by the same route and there he was. Only this time, five hours later, my light was red and I was the only car in my lane. As I slowed to a stop, I pulled out my wallet to check for cash. I found a stack of ones surrounding a larger bill. That in and of itself was a miracle. I never have cash. I couldn't even tell you why I had cash or where it came from so I knew with certainty that this time I was supposed to stop. 

I was certain to catch his eyes this time. I needed him to know my intentions. I rolled my window down and reached over the passenger seat as he approached my car. With timidity in us both, he carefully took the money from my hand, thanking me and saying "God bless you" as he turned to go. I replied with the same, "God bless you, too, sir. I prayed for you this morning."

The last phrase seemed to stammer out of my mouth and it must have caught him off guard too because he had already been in motion to turn away when he paused and looked back at me. His eyes filled with tears as he thanked me once more, only this time he was the one stammering. I pulled forward as my light changed and I uttered another prayer for him.

I don't know what good my money and a few food coupons will do him. But I do know what good it did me. I can't give to every person begging on the street. And normally I'm more inclined to want to roll my window down and ask them how many jobs they've applied for rather than hand them anything. But today was different and I could feel it in my spirit. It was not the time or place for the conversation of whether or not he knows Jesus. Whether or not he really is down on his luck was not for me to judge. To ask what jobs he's applied for was also not my response today. 

Regardless of the little I was able to do for him, it did so much more for me. I continued in an attitude of prayer and thankfulness, overcome with all the things I have to be grateful for. For a car that runs, for gas to go, for a rewarding and fulfilling job, for a bed to sleep in each night, for food to eat each day, for family who love and support, for friends who encourage and care, for the many blessings that I forget to notice each day...I'm thankful.

Today a chance encounter at a stoplight cost me a little bit of money. But today a providential lesson caused me to gain fresh perspective and appreciation for the many things I take for granted each day. 

 

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