Have you ever been in a public place, say a fast-food restaurant, and upon exiting your car to go in, find yourself approached by someone asking for money? I’m sure most of us have had this experience before. Yesterday, I pulled into a Mickey D’s to grab a sweet tea (c’mon, I’m from the South, y’all!), and had it happen to me 3 times. Thrice. Tres. 4 minus one times.
Here was the lowdown: one guy needed 50 cents to use the pay phone to call a ride. And I gave him the change, and he actually went to the pay phone and made a call. Cool.
The next one was inside, and it came from a lady who said she was diabetic and needed $1.50 to buy a salad. I happened to hear one of the managers say to another patron not to do it, that the lady was there everyday with the same story. I didn’t give any money to her. But I felt bad anyway.
The third time came as I was leaving. There were two gentlemen outside the door. Now, you must know, it’s been triple-digit hot down here for about 5 days, and yesterday was a scorcher. These guys looked like they had been in it all day. As I was getting into my car, one of them approached me and asked for $5 so he could pay for a shower and a place to sleep. He told me he had been sleeping in dumpsters and was just looking for a good nights rest. All I had on me was about .95 cents. When I handed it to him, he actually asked if that was it. I told him it was, and he looked insulted and walked off. At which point I thought, “You know, for a guy sleeping in a dumpster, he looked mighty clean.”
And I felt guilty for thinking that.
But as I drove off, it hit me that I was giving out of a desire to, one, clear my conscience, and two, get rid of the people.
And I really felt convicted after that.
So as I prayed, the Holy Spirit impressed the following story from the Bible on me:
“Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask for alms from those who entered the temple; who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. And fixing his eyes upon him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.” So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” (Acts. 3:1-6)
There was one thing that I could have given to all three of those people. One thing more valuable than any coin or bill I had on me. One thing of greater worth than any of us could ever realize. I could have offered the Gospel to them. I could have led them to the Bread of Life, the Fountain of Living Water that never runs dry.
Instead, I parted with a few coins and went on my way.
Lord, I do believe. Help my unbelief.