Tuesday, February 07, 2017

It came around

In my previous post, ‘It will come around’, I wrote about my interactions with a woman in the grocery line who claimed my ‘good deed’ in letting someone go in front of me wouldn’t go unnoticed. God’s economy is a little different in principle, ‘it’ doesn’t have to start somewhere and slowly work its way around so that eventually some deserving soul can receive what’s due them. If we (collectively, society, and individually if we’re critically honest, warts and all) are taking an honest look at ourselves in the mirror and really got what we truly deserved for our contributions to the universe, it’s not hard to see there’d probably be a lot less smiles and a lot more pain. Thankfully God doesn’t treat us as our differences with Him deserve (not a license to live however we feel or want), it’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. He can afford to extend this invitation to us because our differences with Him have been paid for by the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross. He’s taken our shame, removed it as an excuse to not talk to Him - but I digress. I wanted to let you know the sequel to this story.

I went to Target one dark and chilly evening last week and as I was walking towards the main entrance  saw out of the corner of my eye what appeared to be a homeless man walking on a converging path towards me. I walked a little faster as I heard what sounded like muffled grumblings from the man that I thought may be muddled requests for cash - if I can’t tell what he’s saying, I don’t have to feel bad for not giving him money - and if he’s not speaking clearly, that’s probably a good thing, I wouldn’t want to be enabling the man’s dependencies. I felt bad, yes. I’m not saying I did the right thing, but I went into the store and completed my shopping. When I went to check out I got inline behind a woman who saw I only had a couple items - and in front of her were two other people - the ‘homeless man’ I saw outside and a young couple.  Did God put me there for a reason, was I supposed to help this person somehow? But how? “Why don’t you go ahead of me?” The woman in front of me said. Really! What! Oh, it does come around doesn’t it. I debated, outloud. What if God wanted to use me to bless this man? Maybe pay for his order.
 “Yes, thank you” I stepped in front of her with my couple of items. As the young couple left the register, the man smiled and turned back toward the cashier and handed her some cash and motioned it was for the man behind him, the ‘homeless’ man. That’s awesome! So cool to see that. She rang up his order - he only bought a pack of Hanes white t-shirts. Came to $14 and something. She counted the money the previous customer had generously donated $10 - “Do - do you have another $5?”, the man started to look around, didn’t seem like he expected to find anything. This is my chance! While he was looking I reached into my wallet and pulled out $5 and gave it to her. She silently lipped ‘thank you’ and said, “it’s all here, let me get your change.”
 As she counted out less than a dollar for the change, I could hear “really, that’s all you’re going to leave him with?” Nobody said that, but God has been so good to me, I can do better. I quickly reached in my wallet to grab a small chunk of cash I had left and handed it to the guy, “God bless you, Jesus loves you” I said as he walked away. Don’t recall whether he said thank you - he didn’t have to. The woman at the register said “I’m so grateful to see what you and the man before him did. Makes me believe there’s hope out there.” I said, “praise God”. She continued, “My sister volunteers in downtown San Jose, by the church - there’s so many homeless people there, whole families too. I help her out sometimes.”
 ‘That’s awesome’, I said to encourage her. “How’s your day going?” I added.
 “Better now” she said and smiled. “Did you want a bag? No charge-?” I thanked her for her kindness and politely declined. She said “God bless you” as I left and I said the same. Love does come around, sometimes when you least expect it and for those who don’t deserve it, but for those who need it most. God is love. “Against such things, there is no law…”