Monday, September 14, 2009
For The Least of These..............
I gave twenty dollars to a stranger today. He was standing at a busy intersection, holding a cardboard sign that said "broke and hungry." This is a common practice in my city. Sometimes it is a young woman, sometimes a young man, or maybe both. The fellow today looked fairly down and out. He wore a t-shirt emblazoned with a skull motif, and had many tatoos. A heavy backpack completed his outfit.
These folks make me uncomfortable when I come across them. My first impulse is usually to open my wallet to give them some money. If my husband is with me, I don't do this. He is convinced that they are all drug addicts or alcoholics looking for a fix. Or people with jobs who are making extra money. So, knowing this, I hesitate. Lots of times I just drive by. But today, even though I am going through some financial hardship myself, I decided to stop and talk to the guy. I knew I had the twenty dollar bill in my wallet, and some small change. I thought that even though things were tight for myself, at least I had a home and food in the fridge.
I asked him what was going on with him. He told me a story about being injured on the job, coming from Kingston, waiting for Worker's Compensation, thinking about going out west to find a job. Of course, I had no way of knowing if he was lying to me or not. So I handed him the twenty dollar bill and said "God bless you." He thanked me, said "God bless you too." Then he walked away.
As I waited for the light to turn green, I watched him walk over to a bicycle, hop on it and ride away. A little dog ran alongside him. For all I know, he could have been heading for the Beer Store, which was just across the street. I didn't bother to "tail" him, however. If that is where he went, I didn't want to know.
I wonder if it is our pride that makes us hesitate to give money to these people. We don't want to be taken advantage of, or be "taken in" by some kind of scam. Or perhaps we don't want to risk being an "enabler" to someone's addiction. I only know that there must be some truly desperate, needy people out there, among the "fakers". I only know that I have been so incredibly blessed in my life, and that it might have been me, or my son, or my daughter, out there on some street corner, trying to survive in desperate circumstances.
Of course, I always have to ask myself, "what does God want me to do?" I think He would want me to share what I have been blessed with, and leave the results up to Him. What about you? Do you have any similar experiences to share? Any thoughts?