What's strange about this scene is that I live in an area where you just don't see homeless people on the streets. At least not within a ten-mile radius of my house that I've ever seen.
There are plenty of homeless people in our county, but for the most part they live in poorer communities.
I would have been taken aback except that I have been praying that God would show me needs in my neighborhood. Show me needs, and soften me, God. That's what I'd been praying. I had become myopic and lazy. And honestly, when I let myself "go soft" to see needs in the past, I have regretted the depth of overwheleming grief and sadness, and sometimes anger and a sense of helplessness about changing the world or making a difference at all. I have also been duped by people who "work the system" and I was leery about being duped again.
So as I sat at the light, not seeing too many roll down their windows to hand out money or food to this couple, I thought, "Would I? I mean, this county is prosperous, so these kids could just be getting movie money or something." But in the next moment, tears began to pool in my eyes. "No one in their right mind would be standing out in this freezing wind if they didn't have to." And in the third moment, still waiting for the light to turn green, the Lord spoke to me. "This is an opportunity to love Me." It wasn't about who was holding the sign, it was about Jesus and he was clearly saying, "This is your answer."
I drove home trying not to cry, with groceries that needed to be unloaded. When I walked into the house, I told my husband that I felt compelled to give this couple a hot lunch, to get them out of the cold at a fast-food joint. Was that okay with him and did he want to go? Yes, it was okay, but no, he wouldn't be going with me because he had promised our daughter he'd take her to pick up a headboard she bought off Craigslist. A bed, I thought. We all have comfy beds. Where will this young couple sleep tonight? I didn't feel guilty, I felt blessed. That's new, I thought. Always in the past I thought I should renounce prosperity and just feel guilty. But God has not given us blessings for us to feel guilty about. He has "drawn our lines in pleasant places," and I felt very thankful.
Before I left again, Paul asked if I was going to give the couple some money, and I said no, I only had a dollar on me anyway. If they were truly hungry, they would take my offer of lunch. What they needed in the moment was warmth and food, and maybe a ride to a homeless shelter. I could do that, and I wanted to.
I got back in the car and drove toward the intersection where I'd seen them ,hoping they were still there.
To be continued...