It had been raining for two days straight with the New Year upon us and the coldest weather of the season moving in, all anyone wanted was to get home. I walked my normal route out of the office to my truck, letting the day’s events fall out of my mind so I did not bring them home. As I started to turn towards the lot where my truck sat waiting peacefully for me to get in out of the rain, something no someone caught my eye.
He walked towards me in the rain, slowly, as if he was unsure whether to cross my path, turn down the side street or even turn around. Instantly, as I have many times in the past in our city my mind started to prejudge, thinking of ways to avoid eye contact much less conversation, where is my wallet is it secure, I am out here by myself with this guy, what should I do? Then it happened as it has many times before; he raised his head from under his rain jacket and with eyes full of hurt and pain asked me “can you help me?’”
By general rule, I do not give to people on the street, at least not money for we all know where that goes right? For some reason this time felt different, I casually replied, “Sure, let me see how much I have in my truck”. He followed behind me, not too close to be intrusive, but enough to make known that he was there. I walked to my truck and got the three gold dollar coins I had left from change after paying to park in our lovely city many months earlier.
Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.
He had said he needed eight dollars in order to stay in a shelter downtown for the night, all I had was three. You would have thought I had given him the world, as he thanked me repeatedly, not for the money so much as ‘for stopping and noticing me’. My heart sank, ripped to the core, here was a man mid thirties maybe, scar on his right cheek from a sloppy set of stitches, shoes wet and one-size too small, he carried all he owned on his back, as everything else he had had been stolen, and this man humbly thanked me for not ignoring him and walking by like so many others do.
We stood out in the rain together for another twenty minutes or so as I pointed him to resources where he could possibly get help, as well as shared some secrets of the street that I happened to know. We talked, laughed and he shared with me his story, in the end I will probably never see this man again, at least not out in the rain in a borrowed rain coat. As we went our separate ways, his fear seemed to have left him; I almost think I saw a glimmer of hope in his eyes. Granted I only gave him three dollars that I had on me and yet from him I gained the world.
As he walked away he turned and grabbed my hand to shake it again, and said looking into my eyes, “Thank you again, and God Bless you always”, and I said in reply “God Bless you too and best of luck, stay safe and dry.” Little did I know or realize at the time that I am pretty sure like the song says that was “Jesus in Disguise.”
But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. – Matthew 6:3-4