Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tested...and Failed

Twice since we've arrived in this fine city, I have been tested, and I am ashamed to say that I have failed both times.  One of the most powerful things that Christ taught was that the things we do for the poor and hungry, sick and lame, we do for Him.  In both cases, I failed to do more because I hesitated. 

In the first instance, Hubbs and I were heading to 7-11 to grab a drink before returning home post-workout.  At the door of the 7-11 was a fairly disheveled looking older fellow, standing there with his bicycle resting on a streetlight.  I wasn't sure what his intentions were since he was standing such that he was blocking our way into the store, and I assumed that he was probably begging for change (a common occurrence in most major cities these days).  When we got to the door, this fellow opened it for us, and told us to have a nice evening.  He didn't hold out his hand, and he certainly did not give any indication that he wanted money.  However, I suddenly wanted to give him something, even if it was just $2.  I readied my change while Hubbs paid for our drinks, but by the time we exited the store a mere couple of minutes later, the man and his bicycle were gone.  I had lost my chance to bless him.

Several evenings ago, on our way to the grocery store, we chanced upon a lady who was indeed asking for change.  She was pacing up and down the sidewalk in front of the store, and when we approached, she asked us for some money so that she could buy something to eat.  She spoke coherently and told us she wasn't an addict or a drunk.  Unfortunately, I didn't have much change on me, but I gave her what little I had.  I still felt uneasy after we had left her and entered the store, so I turned to Hubbs and suggested that we buy her a sandwich or something to give to her on our way out.  The entirety of the shopping trip (a quick one) had me distracted with thoughts of what to buy this lady, and how hungry she must have been to ask for money.  Well, after we had paid for our groceries and her salad rolls (I opted for salad rolls since they are my favourite), we headed outside to try to find her.  No luck.  She was gone, and so was my lone opportunity to help her out in a real, tangible way.

How often have we all hesitated, and lost our window of opportunity to help out our fellow man?  I was quite upset after both of these encounters, and have felt much like one who has failed a test over and over.  What would I possibly have lost by being more generous from the outset?  How much more did I lose by being too cautious and too frugal?  It is a lesson that is now near to my heart, and one I hope to learn from the next time I have a chance to be sunshine in the life of a stranger.  I want to be one who gives the hungry something to eat, and the thirsty something to drink.  I want to follow Jesus in a way that is real and tangible in this hurting, broken world.  Do you?