Yesterday my mom and I were out shopping for a baby shower gift for a very good friend of mine. This is a friend whom I have known since high school, she is my daughter's Godmother and her family is like my 2nd family. In fact, it is because of this friend that I have a love affair with all things Mexican food, because I spent many, many hours hanging out in and working in her mom's Mexican restaurant.
So, as mom and I were leaving Target after a successful shopping trip, I noticed a man helping a woman by the side of the road. She got in her car and left and this man walked back to the little 'island' in the middle of the exit lane and sat back down with his backpack and sign.
Now Bend has many homeless and I have noticed an increase in panhandling over the past year probably due to the increase in homelessnes, loss of jobs, homes, hope, etc. I have been guilty of making snap judgements about those I see holding signs and asking for help, the most common being 'if I give them money they will probably just spend it on cigarettes or alcohol.' I am not proud of this because honestly, I don't know the person's story, or why they need the money. And, I don't know exactly when it was that I was hit over the head with the realization that I was in fact judging based on a sterotype, but I was mortified and disgusted with myself.
I know that even in the 'lean' months, I have more than most people in the world. Yes, IN. THE. WORLD. And, am I not called as a Christ follower to help the needy? God doesn't tell me to help only the needy who don't stand on a street corner and hold a sign, but to help all of the needy. And He doesn't call me to help the needy only when it's convenient for me to 'write a little something extra' in the tithe check. Maybe to me it's an inconvenient time, but to God, it's just stretching me a little.
And so, it started a few years ago that I asked God to just give me a good old prompt anytime He saw fit for me to help anyway I could.
I have driven past people holding signs, only to turn around and go back to give them food or money. I shop at a store where the homeless tend to hang out. I have walked out with my kids, our arms full of groceries, only to go back in so that I can buy some meals for them.
And just yesterday, when I pulled up to the man who had helped the woman, I felt the prompt. The crazy thing was when I was reaching for my purse.....my mom was reaching for hers. I called him over to the car, gave him some money and drove off. When I looked at my mom I said, "I used to use the excuse they will just buy alcohol or cigarettes with the money. But that changed because when I feel like God is prompting me to help them, if I use that excuse, I am basically questioning God and that is not my place. I don't know what they will do with the money, but if God tells me to give, I'm going to." And my mom, who is one of the wisest women I know said, 'we were both prompted at the same time.'
My friend Helen did a post about judging without knowing and perhaps this is what prompted this. I don't give to get praise, but because I am so humbled by the graciousness of those in need. Every time I give,