Confession: I always feel… um… awkward… when I pass a homeless person on the street.
I never know what to do. Do I ignore them? Then I feel like a huge jerk. Do I make eye contact and say hello? I still feel like a jerk. Oh wait. Maybe its not awkward. And maybe it’s not just feeling like a jerk. Maybe it’s conviction. Like, from the Holy Spirit. As in I should do something about it.
But I haven’t really known what to do before. Until last week.
Enter stage left, our latest Factor of 7. (Sidenote: Since it’s been a minute since we’ve done a Factor of 7 here at 7 Days Time, let me explain to our new followers. Brandon and I feel called to do acts of kindness in Jesus’ name by listening to the Holy Spirit. Sometimes it deals with money, sometimes not. You can see previous FO7’s here. Anywho, back to our story.)
Here’s what went down. I was taking baby girl to get her six month shots. (UG.) As I was driving through Olympia, I saw a homeless man standing on the corner in the rain holding a cardboard sign. I read it from a distance. It said “Hey, at least I am not a thief, right? Can you spare a dollar?”
My first thought in response to his sign was “Well, even if you were a thief, Jesus would still love you…”
I was suddenly overwhelmed with a feeling that I should do something… I glanced at the clock an noticed I had about three minutes to get to baby girl’s appoint on time. I whispered a quick prayer, “Father, if this is from you, tell me what you want me to do and make it very obvious.”
I continued onto our appointment, very aware that this God-adventure was not over. Four shots later, we completed Charis’ checkup and I plopped in the driver’s seat to head home. But immediately my heart returned to the homeless gentleman we passed earlier. Suddenly, I remembered looking at my bucket list the day prior. Written in purple scribbly pen, one bullet said: “Give all my cash to a homeless person.”
I knew what I had to do, and I was certain it was from God for several reasons. First, the bucket list epiphany from the day before. Plus, I almost never carry cash, but it was the beginning of the month and I knew our full “entertainment/eating out” money of $75 was tucked snugly in an envelope in my purse.
I continued to pray for God to make it clear what and how to do this. I wasn’t sure where (or IF I was going!) to turn, but at the next stop light, I spotted him… and the left turn lane was wide open.
I pulled into the Jack in the Box parking lot to dig out the cash. As I unzipped my wallet, $50 of my husband’s month worth of “food money” fell into my lap. My first thought? “Crap. I though he had taken that out this morning!” At the same time, I heard God whisper… “All of it, my child.”
The stakes had just been raised. $125. Ok, Lord. Here we go…
I rolled down my window and beckoned to the man holding the cardboard sign. I gave him my wad of cash totaling $125. He smiled gently and his eyes filled up with tears. He didn’t stop to count it but slowly just shoved it into his pocket.
Then I asked our God-centered Factor of 7 question. “What’s your name and how can I pray for you?”
His name was James and we had a conversation about various prayer requests, specifically for healing and health of a muscle issue in his leg. As we talked, he just kept saying thank you, over and over.
After a few moments, I told him we would be praying and that God was with him. I turned on my blinker, pulled out of the parking lot and waved goodbye. He waved back, gratitude filling his face.
As I drove home, I was praising the Lord for His voice, faithfulness and generous spirit.
Some skeptics might say that it was a reckless thing to do, giving a stranger, a homeless one at that, all of our family’s cash for the month. No, I can’t guarantee James will spend it responsibly. But what I can guarantee is that Jesus loved the least of these… the tax collectors, prostitutes, beggars, you name it. So why shouldn’t we do the same? We are called to recklessly love Christ. He loves James just as much as He loves you and me. Oh, and I absolutely don’t tell this story to brag… I my fleshy self never would have though of this on my own. But I share this account to inspire. It wasn’t me that handed over that wad of bills. It was Christ. In heart and spirit.
How can you be more like Christ today? Think about it… And share your thoughts in the comment section below.
My husband and I continue to pray for our new friend James… That while He might not have a home here on earth at the moment, he might someday have a permanent hopeful heavenly home.
Blessed beyond measure,
“Learn to do good. Work for justice. Help the down-and-out. Stand up for the homeless. Go to bat for the defenseless.” ~Isaiah 1:17 MSG