Wednesday, October 14, 2020

The Resemblance


Parking downtown to go to an early morning church service, I had just gotten out of my vehicle to put quarters in the parking meter when I heard a voice calling to me.  

“Will you help us?” he pleaded.  When I looked, I saw two homeless people, a man and a woman, standing nearby. 

“Will you please help?” she asked. 

“What do you need?” I replied, stopping to listen.  

“We’re hungry.  Could you spare something so we could eat?” 

“We could get pancakes for $2.00 around the corner,” she added hopefully.

I’m well aware of the probability of this money being used for other reasons.  I know that giving cash to the homeless is not always the best thing for them.  But I concluded that the chance that they really needed to eat was more important than turning my back on them.  I went over to my car to get a few dollars.

 When I did, a couple of pedestrians scoffed me for wanting to help the untidy pair.  “You shouldn’t do that,” they said, disgustedly.  “They won’t use that for food…” They hurried past us, appalled.  Their disregard for the needy was grounded in the belief that the indigents would misuse the gift I was about to give them.

 In the confusion, I paused to let them pass.  Then, for just a moment, our gaze connected.  Me and the homeless man.  As I looked into his eyes, I could see his poverty.  He knew he was powerless over what I would do next; he knew that I may possibly change my mind and decide not to help them.  He realized the bystanders were right.  He understood he was a helpless, lost soul, who deserved nothing.  I saw it all in one private look.

Most of us do not identify with the likes of the homeless couple.  In the eyes of the world, we are doing everything right.  But perhaps many of us closely resemble them.

God freely gives us the gift of speech—how often have we squandered this for moments of unkindness? God freely gives us talents and abilities.  Eager to succeed in life, we glorify ourselves with our possessions and pride, often forgetting the very source of our aptitude.  We have been given a heart to love ourselves and others.  Yet many of us fall far short of loving either entity.  Should God stop giving these gifts because we may exploit them?

Not that indigents are right in their lifestyle.  But we’re not so perfect in ours either.  We all need the grace of God to get by.  And once we realize our own powerlessness, our own need for God’s great gifts and grace, we feel His strength in us.  We recognize the outpouring of love freely given us each day.  We know we are not worthy of it, any more than the needy couple.  But we pray, as they did, that in spite of our own unworthiness, He doesn’t scoff our requests, but rather, gives generously and unconditionally.

Slowly, deliberately, I approached the shabby twosome.  Without a second thought, I handed over the money.  It was just enough to get a couple of servings of pancakes.  But perhaps enough to change a few souls—theirs and mine.




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