Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tugging At My Heart

Sarah stood at the busy intersection watching as the rush hour traffic crept slowly through each green light. She was holding a sign, as she did most days, that simply read, 'Homeless, hungry and anything helps. God Bless you.'

She was well aware of each stare that was directed her way by the occupants of the vehicles as they waited for the light to change. Some looked on with disgust and Sarah knew she wasn't much to look at with her raggedy clothes and unkempt hair. Others looked upon her with skepticism as if she was merely out on the corner trying to cheat them out of their hard earned money. And in some faces, she saw pity. Pity that a person would have to resort to begging for a few lousy bucks. And, they all drove off without a second glance.

But what Sarah was more aware of were the ones who did everything they could to ignore her presence on that corner. They pulled up right alongside her but wouldn't even cast a glance her way. Those were the moments when Sarah felt the pangs in her heart, when she realized some people hoped that if they just ignored her, the problem would go away. That she would go away.


I saw 'Sarah' on the corner the other night standing out in the cold as I pulled up next to her. I didn't really notice what she was wearing and I didn't pay much attention to the bags lying next to her. What I noticed was the weariness on her face and the sadness in her eyes as she sat on the curb holding her sign. It was at that moment that I felt 'the prompt' and even before I pulled out my wallet, I knew... I'd spent my last few dollars only days before.

The light changed and the driver behind me began honking, irritated that I was at a standstill on a now green light. Looking up, I realized I was holding up traffic and drove off in an effort to silence the impatient driver.

I have thought about Sarah since then and even looked for her the past few days as I've driven by that corner. I knew I was being prompted to help her and I should have turned around and gone back. But I didn't. Maybe because it was late and I was tired and the opportunity seemed to pass when I drove away through the intersection.

I have been chastised for giving money to people on the corner and I've heard every 'they'll just buy drugs or alcohol with it' argument. I don't believe that and I think we have to be careful about judging those who are out on those street corners because we don't know their story. We don't know how they got there or what twists and turns in life happened that they ended up begging for a few dollars.

A few years ago, I made a deal with God regarding those in need. I told him that I would help anyone standing on any corner holding a sign, or hanging out in front of a grocery store or any person that He knew needed help if He would prompt me to do so. And He has. And I don't believe it's ever my place to question God when He tells me to give. Whether it is my last ten dollars to someone on a corner or several bags of groceries for those in a homeless camp. I struck a deal and I do my best to hold up my end of the bargain.

So this is where I'm going to challenge you. Ask God to point out those in need to you and be willing to help them. There are so many hurting, hungry, needy, lonely people that are closer to us than we realize. Seek out those people and ask what you can do to help.

If you haven't yet, and you'd like to join in Billy Coffey's Ten Dollar Challenge, (which you should because it's an awesome thing) then head on over to Billy's and read about how you can bless someone this holiday season.


Billy Coffey said...

Wow, Annie. Just wow.

katdish said...

Good for you, Annie. I find myself fighting the urge to ignore the people standing right beside my car as if they don't exsist. Even if I have nothing to give them but a smile, I at least try to give them that -- I think they feel invisible enough as it is.

S. Etole said...

Your heart just spills out in your writing and photos.

HisFireFly said...

Praying the Lord leads you to find Sarah again, even to offer a word of love or peace...
thanks for blessing us with this story..

Heart2Heart said...

This is such a moving story and one I think we all find ourselves guilty of. In this credit card, ATM cashless world now, more of us don't carry cash like we used to. Because of stories like Billy's and yours and books about the homeless like I am no different anyhow? I am hoping that people will just bless people that are asking for it and they have it available to give, and leave the rest to God.

Love and Hugs ~ Kat

Jeanne Damoff said...

I've had those moments of knowing I missed an opportunity God placed in my path. I've also ignored beggars, keeping my eyes straight ahead.

I can't say I'll catch every prompting of the Spirit in the future, but I'll determine to look those sign-holding folks in the eye and offer them dignity if nothing else.

Thanks for being the voice of gentle rebuke. I needed it.

Amrita said...

In India panhandlers, beggars, street people etc. abound. People come to us asking for help, knowing we are Christians...
Christians are known to commit charitable acts. We help as much as we can but sometimes we have to draw a line.

Sometimes God can prevent us from helping . I went to visit a family who is practically living off charity because the husband and wife don 't want to work...plain lazy. I had some money to give them, specially for the innocent children, but when I got to their place I found that I had forgotten my wallet at home.I could only buy a snack for the kids.I believe God orchestrated that, H e wants the adults to move their hands and legs.

~*Michelle*~ said...

God will lead Sarah to you....just wait and see.

Sending you a link to a story I think you will enjoy/connect with.

You are a special person, Annie...