Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Sheep or Goat?

We’ve all been there. We pull up at a stop light and there standing next to our car is someone holding up a cardboard sign, wanting money, just staring at us while we wait for the light to change so we can hurry up and get away! You know exactly what I’m talking about. I know you have been there!!

We ponder what we should do. Should I give them money or should I just drive off and act like I didn’t see them? I sadly must admit, I almost always drive away and act like I didn’t see them. I would venture to guess, I’m far from alone!

Monday, I was driving home from a quick out of town trip and I made a pit stop about half way home. There she was. A woman standing on the street in front of the gas station I stopped at, gas can sitting next to her and a sign in her hand. She was trying to get home and needed gas (at least that was her story)…

Isn’t that what we always say? “At least that was their story”, like we are sure that isn’t the truth of the situation.

I saw her, I noticed, I went on in to the gas station. As I did, I felt an overwhelming urge to give her some money. So, as I left the gas station, I looked at what I had. I had a $20 bill, a $5 bill, and two $1 bills. I thought, maybe I’ll just give her the $2. Then the Lord said, “No, give her all of it”. So I thought, maybe I’ll just give her the $5. Again, the Lord said, “No, give her all of it”. Sigh…

I thought for a minute and I said, Ok. I’m supposed to give her all of the cash I have left. So I headed toward her. I had no clue what to say (I am quite terrible in situations like that; I never know what to say).

I walked up to her and smiled at her. She was in quite a state. She was either a woman in her late 50’s or 60’s or she was just a woman who had lived a very hard life. She was filthy. I mean, black dirt covered, nasty, dirty, filthy!! She was extremely skinny, you could see her shoulder blades sticking out, and she had no teeth. My honest, gut feeling told me that she probably was on drugs and that one part of me wanted to turn around and not give her the money. But, I was already standing there so I couldn’t do that. I also couldn’t really change the amount I was going to give her, because I had it in my hand already. And then there was the tiny little thing of just being obedient to God!!!

So, I handed her the money. I expected a thank you, and quite honestly, expected her to keep standing there begging for more. But what happened next genuinely surprised me. She looked down at what I had given her and she smiled so big. She said, “That’s it! I’m going home!! I’m going home!!”

It took all I had to choke back the tears. I hugged her and told her that I would be praying for her and that I hoped that she had a blessed day. Now, in hind sight, I wish I would have said MUCH more, but at the time, that’s all I had!!

She hugged me back and said thank you. Then she picked up her gas can and walked across the parking lot to a green car that was sitting there. There were other people in the car too.

I didn’t hang around to see if she filled up her car and left or not. Part of me wanted to, but it really didn’t matter. If she genuinely needed gas to get home, then giving her that money helped her get home. If she didn’t need gas and was standing out there begging for money for drugs or something else, well, that’s between her and God, but at least it got her off the street corner.

As I’ve been processing this moment this week, I’m taken back to two things. The first is obedience. No matter what I think in my natural mind about a situation or a person, that doesn’t change or negate what God asks of me. No matter what my flesh wants me to do, obeying God is far more important!!

And secondly, it takes me back to Matthew 25…
31 “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. 42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”

I want to be a sheep, not a goat!!! This issue of caring for strangers in need is something that God cares about deeply!!!

This woman... this dirty, filthy, possibly drug addicted woman, is a woman that God cares deeply about!! I prayed most of the rest of the way home for her and I will continue to pray for her. I don’t know her name, but God does!!

Will I stop and help every person I ever see on the street begging for money? Probably not. But I hope that I will stop and ask God what He wants me to do in that moment. And when I do, I will listen for His reply and do what He instructs. I hope and pray that everyone who reads this will also do the same.