The performer’s to-do list is always full — there’s never a blank page — on any day.
It was a warm summer day, and I just had planned on running a few quick errands. Nothing major on the docket. Destination points ‘A,’ ‘B,’ and ‘C.’ Nothing more, nothing less and certainly no extra time.
“Oh, a nice cold drink from Starbucks drive-thru … that wouldn’t take long and besides, it’s ‘double star day.'” Great reasoning for someone on just a few errands and little time. Fine. Add it to the list and keep driving.
Heading in the preferred direction I see a woman with a shopping cart crossing the street. Now, you know that most grocery stores have those things rigged these days so that they can’t be easily taken off the premises. So, you can also surmise that the contents therein were her earthly treasures, among which happened to be a sleeping bag — and it wasn’t spilling over the top by any means.
As I slowed to reach the traffic light, I notice her stop to examine what appeared to be another shopping cart left abandoned beneath the shade of a tree in front of a bank. This was my corner to turn — but GOD held my view in place just long enough to touch my heart. Thoughts began to swirl in my head.
It’s a very, very warm day and she’s wearing long sleeves, socks in her slide-in shoes, and walking slowly. She’s probably very hot and tired — who knows how far she’s pushed that cart under this sun. Water … cold water … get her a cup of cold water. And what if she’s not eaten today? A morsel of food would be great with that water …
It’s incredible how many fleeing thoughts can zip line in your head in a flashing moment. I started to visualize what I may have in the trunk of my car that might make her comfortable for the night — envisioning her laying herself down on the suburban streets. A jacket? A blanket?
I quickly turned and estimated that if I actually went to a different Starbucks drive-thru, grabbed a cup of cold water (those are free by the way) and maybe spent some of those rewards I had collected (they were going to expire anyways) on a food item, I could get her some comfort — at least for one meal.
Keeping to the rules of the law and the road, I managed to get my items and set back out to locate mystery cart woman roaming the streets. Circling back to where I saw her and guessing that based on her stride she may not have walked very far, I go back in search. Looking … panning both sides of this busy street … I see the same abandoned cart, left alone still beneath the tree in front of the bank.
“Lord, please let me find her. Help me find her.”
Suddenly, I see what looked like the same tired figure pushing a cart — taking a moment to rest standing still on the sidewalk — in the opposite direction. U-turns are a blessing. Because they cause you to see what you may have missed or could have potentially missed had you not been looking — eyes and heart wide open.
I pull along side the curb just beneath a sign, “No stopping here.” Is it considered ‘pausing’ instead of stopping when you want to do something good and the engine’s still running?
Just a few yards from where mystery cart woman was now pushing her possessions and coming in my direction, I checked my sideview mirror and it was definitely not safe enough for me to exit my car — but she’s now just feet from my passenger side door.
Rolling down the window, engine still running, “I have something to give you.” Somehow she knew to stop before I could get the words out. She smiled, “Oh, okay.” Handing her the Starbucks cup of cold water and slice of banana bread, I tell her, “I saw you down the road earlier and was hoping to catch up with you. I worried when I didn’t see you but I asked God to help me find you. This is for you.” And with that I extended my meager goodies and she smiled even bigger as she received them. “This is going to be a good day!” she declared. “God bless you!” as she gave me a thumbs up she looked up. “And God bless you!” as I watched her walk away to take a seat at the nearby bus stop.
Sometimes when we want to do ginormous projects to help save the world, be the hands and feet of Jesus, go on missions trips … but current situations or circumstances are less than the most ‘ideal’ to actually do these wonderful things … we can still give out of our abundance and with that, pour out unlimited kindness.
This time of year, the homeless are on foot and very transient. The weather provides the means for those even without the covering of a highway overpass or worn cardboard boxes overhead to sleep beneath public trees, on park benches and nearby coastal areas. And I think it’s a heavenly reminder of what Jesus said:
For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. Matthew 26:11 ESV
Whenever I have the joy to encounter such an angel, I leave with a prayer on my lips, “Lord, let them see You today in the comfort they receive.” Comfort doesn’t always come at a high price for the giver. And it need not be a show-stopper-horn-blowing moment in time. If we can just extend a gesture of kindness, it can have unbelievable impact on a hurting world and shed some light in dark corners.
This may be your opportunity … your privilege … to follow through on something that the Lord has whispered in your heart. More than just a random act of kindness, it is with God-breathed intentionality — nothing random here. But you get to let Him pick the person and the moment.
Take the time to pray about how you can bring comfort and kindness in the smallest of ways. Leaving handmade note cards on the doorstep of a neighbor that is living alone or appears recluse will let them know they are not forgotten. Helping a struggling mom in the grocery store while she’s wrangling a squirrelly toddler may give her the ability to finish her task — even if it’s to load that case of water into her cart. Sweeping the debris and leaves from the driveway of elderly neighbors without being asked reassures them they have a friend nearby.
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40 NIV
I love you to Heaven and Back, Girlfriend ~~
LindaRJohnson, TitusTwo Visionary