We are conditioned to see the worst in people. Don't deny it. There are posts about Walmart people and they way they dress, we judge people for what they have or don't have, and gossip about the person next door and his/her strange behavior. It's basic human nature to cast aspersions on others, it makes us feel better about ourselves.
This past Saturday I helped a community ministry serve breakfast to the homeless. Yes, that's right, I got up early, missed my usual pancakes and bacon to sacrifice my time and effort for the less fortunate. I wasn't dissappointed either. There were plenty of people for me to grace with my presence and caring demeanor.
I stood in line with two young men who had authority issues and we discussed the relavence of law abiding behavior. I stood behind a weeping woman and listened intently to the sceptic who thought religious prayers don't work. I helped at a table where the poor were offered free clothing. Drumroll please, I even took one of them thirty miles out of my way to a place where she could work.
During the ride with my new friend I discovered something very important, dignity. I asked her how Christians should respond to the homeless and she didn't answer my question. Instead she explained how the homeless should respond to their situation. Thankfulness was at the top of her list. She believed that all good things came from God's hand and that the homeless should appreciate his providential care. There are good times and bad times and in them all He walks by their side.
I asked about her family and she asked about mine. We shared about our mutual love for our children and how they are such a blessing. I pulled up to the salon where she often found work and she asked if I would wait in case there wasn't any for her that day. When she returned and got in the car I thought she was needing a ride back home, but that wasn't the case. Grabbing my hand she looked into my eyes and said, "I never leave a car without praying."
She didn't just pray a generic prayer, but mentioned each of my children by name, and asked God's blessing on each of them. She prayed for my oldest's family and their safe return from the Middle East. She prayed for my middle son and their new home. She prayed for my youngest and his new wife that they would be safe going on an African Missions trip. She prayed specifically, compassionately, and with faith.
In the process of our time together she asked for a ride, some food, and a little money. However, what she gave me was of greater value; of richer gain. She gave me what she had and that was a grace far more valuable than she received, and I am a better person for getting to know her. I'm just saying.