Let's refresh on where I've been.
Bought into the American Dream hook line and sinker. Went to the best college, got the best degree, married a like-minded guy with a good job, bought a house in a great neighborhood, did well at my career, bought another bigger, nicer house in another great neighborhood, had two beautiful kids, saw an opportunity to move to the land of milk and honey (Texas) and took it. Bought a huge house zoned to THE best school in THE best district in THE nicest master planned community. Felt like life was perfect and we were insanely blessed.
Sometime after we moved something started to shift. It may have a bit to do with reading the following books:
Fields of the Fatherless
The Hole in Our Gospel
Choosing to See
Adopted for Life
|Worshiping with the homeless in Montrose|
Fast forward to today. We are adopting. We sponsor kids through Compassion. We support The Mercy House. We are vocal advocates for orphan care. Etc.
But we still live in what I like to refer to as "rich-ville". We go into the city occasionally to help with a homeless ministry but I rarely encounter visible brokenness while running errands in my community. Months ago, I decided to put a box of granola bars in my driver side door to be able to hand to a homeless beggar if I passed one on the street. That same box has been there for at least six months, probably a year. I replaced it once because I figured it was getting stale. THAT is how long it has been since I've even SEEN a homeless person on the street.
Saturday I had a wide open afternoon to run some errands on my own. I returned a perfectly lovely pair of shoes I bought for my conference and never wore. That's $50 I didn't need to spend. I sold a few items at a local consignment shop for cash.
On the way home I saw her, an older woman sitting in an intersection holding a cardboard sign. It was such an odd sight for our town that I did a double take, but I was rounding a bend and merging onto a highway so I couldn't read her sign or stop.
Immediately my mind started racing and my heart ached. I wondered what her sign said. I wondered if she could use my granola bars. I thought about the cash in my wallet. I desperately wanted to know her story. But I was headed to Target to pick up dog food and medicine. I passed one exit and didn't turn around. I knew I had time on my hands, no one urgently waiting for me to get home.
I passed another exit, feeling my stomach tightening into knots. I could help her. Jesus would help her. Was I all talk and no action? How would I do it, just pull up in the middle of the intersection and stop? Should I park my car at the drugstore and walk across traffic to talk to her? What if it just LOOKED like a woman but was really a guy?
Several miles down the road I pulled off towards Target and thought about how I was heading to the store to buy anything I wanted and I could replace those granola bars in a heartbeat. Suddenly I swung the car in a U-turn and reversed course. I could NOT do nothing. I just couldn't.
I drove back to intersection and made all sorts of turns so that I could read her sign. It said "Homeless and hungry, anything will help." She sat there with a little dog, smoking a cigarette and holding a giant can of beer and staring into space. I looked her in the eye and got zero reaction. Finally I rolled down the window and yelled "Hey! Do you want these?" waving the box of granola bars. She yelled "Yes!! Oh yes!" and jumped up and ran across one lane of traffic to grab them from me. Her sign started to blow away so I muttered an apology for that and watched as she stuffed the box into her gym bag. She sat right back down in the same position and went back to holding her sign. I drove off wondering if I should have given her cash, or taken the time to park and talk to her.
I don't have the answer. But I walked into Target and winced a bit at its excessiveness. I prayed for the older lady who somehow ended up on a median in rich-ville. And I wondered how exactly I had arrived at this place where I live in daily tension between extreme blessing and a broken world.