Tonight I had a sense of God's powerful "nudging"--a push into action. It happened this evening while I was walking home from class. Normally I have friends who drive me home, and who, once again, graciously offered to do so tonight. However, I felt a desire to walk.
About half way home, I encountered a gentleman named Lawrence who was asking for money. I have seen Lawrence in the neighborhood before. He's a friendly man. Tonight, he asked me if I could give him just $2 to catch the bus to the homeless shelter for the night. It was the only way he would have to be warm this evening. I had no money on me and told him regretfully so. At that moment, I look down to see Lawrence's hands, callused and cracked from long exposure to the wind and cold of the day. In that moment, I was moved by God's "nudging" into action. I didn't stop to think. I didn't question my actions. I simply took off my gloves and handed them over. His genuine look of gratitude was enough thanks for me. I looked back after I crossed the street to see Lawrence with gloves on his hands and a smile on his face.
I thank God who works in wonderful and mysterious ways for prodding me into service at that moment. I was struck by the immediacy with which I felt this sense to do something. It was never about me. It was about being called by God to serve a beloved child in need--my mere presence and response to God's call met one man's need on this November evening. We have no idea what difference our actions, large or small, could make in the lives of others.
Yet, I walked away from this encounter with Lawrence feeling as though there is more that could be done. I now leave it with you all, in what ways can we serve those in need both monetarily but also, and perhaps more importantly, how can we go beyond that?
Leaving behind all the questions we may have within ourselves and that society as a whole prompts us to ask about those experiencing homelessness, let us remember this:
this man is a human being, a beloved child of God, created in the image of our Creator just as you and I have been. He, under no circumstances, deserves to be out on the streets on a mid-November night with temperatures below freezing. He too deserves warmth, shelter, and place to rest his head. As do all people in this world struggling in the face of poverty and homelessness. Let us pray that they find shelter and that we may be agents of change in this world to bring this about.
As Jesus said in Matthew, 25:34-46, 34 “Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who will receive good things from my Father. Inherit the kingdom that was prepared for you before the world began.35 I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me.36 I was naked and you gave me clothes to wear. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me.’
37 “Then those who are righteous will reply to him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? 38 When did we see you as a stranger and welcome you, or naked and give you clothes to wear? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “Then the king will reply to them, ‘I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Get away from me, you who will receive terrible things. Go into the unending fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 I was hungry and you didn’t give me food to eat. I was thirsty and you didn’t give me anything to drink. 43 I was a stranger and you didn’t welcome me. I was naked and you didn’t give me clothes to wear. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and didn’t do anything to help you?’ 45 Then he will answer, ‘I assure you that when you haven’t done it for one of the least of these, you haven’t done it for me.’ 46 And they will go away into eternal punishment. But the righteous ones will go into eternal life.”