Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Chronicles of Life … The least of these

“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.’” Matt. 25:40 NIV
‘Tis the season of giving, but how quickly do we often forget to help our fellow (wo)man? Christmas was barely out the door before I started becoming Ebenezer Scrooge, but I had a change of heart on Sunday.
My 9-year-old cousin and I were in Walmart when I heard someone psst at me. It was a random woman, we’ll now call Jessie. She was missing teeth, and the few she still had were rotten. Jessie looked homeless and without a friend in the world. I guess she thought I could be a friend. She beckoned me closer and asked if I had $3 to spare for her rent.
Over the years I have become very cynical. I thought to myself. “She probably wants to just buy some drugs.” Give money to some random stranger inside of Walmart: I think not. Do I have Foo Foo the Fool written across my forehead? Her basket had a few essential items. She could just put something back if it was that serious. I simply told her I was paying with a card. Mind you, I had the $3. Jessie told me thank you anyway and “God bless you.”
I thought that would be the end of her, but she kept appearing. First she waved while passing by on a nearby aisle. Then she was right behind us in the checkout line. After paying for my items we headed to the exit, but I heard Jessie call out, “Thank you again, and God bless you.” Thank me for what? I didn’t give her anything.
On the way to the car my little cousin and I wondered about Jessie’s life situation and the validity of her needing the money. Was she homeless? On drugs? A prostitute (my cousin’s thought)? By the time we reached the car I felt really bad. I could have easily given her $3. What kind of example was I setting for my little cousin, especially during the holiday season? And my daddy had just preached that morning about being you’re brother’s keeper. I didn’t know her, but Jessie was still my sister.
“I should have given her that money,” I told my cousin. “That could have been the difference between her getting put out in the cold.”
“Or she could be getting drugs,” she said.
“I’m going to find her and give her this money,” I said.
Thus began my search for Jessie. Up and down each row of parking we looked and looked. But we didn’t see her. Phase two of the search took us back inside Walmart.
“We are not leaving this store until we find her,” I said. “Otherwise, I might cry.”
“You should have just given her the money in the first place,” my cousin said. “Then we wouldn’t have to walk all around in this cold.”
“What if that was God in disguise?” I said. “He said ‘I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat.’ ”
If this was a test from the Lord, I had failed miserable. I didn’t give her anything. I was determined, to find Jessie; my little cousin, not so much. We were just about to give up when I saw her by the exit.
“We’ve been looking for you,” I said. “Here’s the money you needed.”
“Thank you so much,” she said.
She was happy to receive it, but I was even happier to give it. All was right in life, until she asked that next question, “Are you going downtown by any chance?”

OK maybe that wasn’t the Lord. Maybe she was a druggie. And maybe you should just call me Lollypop because I am a sucker. But I did feel better giving her the money. I just hope my few little dollars are a blessing to her in some way – whether it’s by actually paying rent, getting high or fixing her teeth (my cousin said that one).