This morning I received a daily inspiration in my email and read it to my dad.
As Christians the poor should have a place in our lives. Reflect on these words from St. Augustine, “Give to the poor, I’m begging you, I’m warning you, I’m commanding you, I’m ordering you.”
I thought about what it means to be “poor” and how that can look very different from the typical person standing on the street corner. I also thought about what opportunities I have to actually allow the “poor” to have a place in my life. It was easy when I was in ministry, but not so much now. In the afternoon I ran errands and did some shopping. It was hot, so I grabbed a cold water bottle on my way out the door. As I was travelling from one store to the next, I came across the person standing on the street corner. His sign said “Smile” on one side and “This is uncomfortable for me too.” on the other. I felt God’s tug on my heart and knew I should give him my nice cold water bottle. But as I approached, the light turned green. I didn’t want to stop for those 5 seconds and hold up traffic, so I drove by feeling terrible, knowing that I had just done the opposite of what I should have. My next stop was Hobby Lobby where I scoured the aisles. I ended up in the back corner poking through the clearance items. I was pushing my cart and almost hit a woman I did not see as she was sitting on an empty bottom shelf. She was obviously not shopping and looked pretty sad. I walked by and went around the corner. I felt God’s tug on my heart again and knew I should ask her if she was alright. I argued with the thought as I went up the next aisle but decided I was not going to be disobedient a second time. I went back, stopped at her feet and asked if she was alright. She said, “I don’t know” and started to cry. I started to pray – God, please let me know what I am supposed to do here and what I should say. I asked if she needed help. She told me that she and her husband were always fighting and she did not know what to do. She said she wanted to leave, but they had 2 children. We talked – well, she talked mostly and I listened – for probably half an hour. I asked if she had a church that she went to. She said she did and that she and her husband talked to someone there, but it made no difference. I asked if I could pray for her. She said yes, folded her hands, and bowed her head. I placed my hand on her shoulder and we prayed together. I suppose there were people around, but if felt very much like her, me, and God. When we finished, I encouraged her to go back to the church and find someone who would be able to talk to her alone to help her through this time. We parted ways, and as I went down another aisle, I looked back, but she was gone. As I finished my errands and headed home, I prayed for her – as I will continue to do – that I did some good in our encounter, and that she gets the help she needs.
I Found God today in listening to His promptings, meeting a stranger in need, and entering into her suffering; and I pray that God will take care of her and her family.