You know, I was driving along with a friend today, and we stopped at a red light just past the Stop & Shop plaza. (Where I’d just bought $24 worth of chicken and pumpkin pie, by the way.) I was feeling good, glad that I’d bought everything I needed for the weekend, including necessities from Price Rite and Wal-Mart.
But then we stopped at the light, and there was a homeless man standing there with his sign. Now — here’s a little thing about me. As a general rule, if I have a few bucks in my wallet, and I see a man or woman standing with a sign at the stoplight, I’ll give them the change that I have.
Well, that was the general rule. Lately, I’ve been noticing that the people at the stoplights has been increasing exponentially, almost in a weird way. It’s not their fault they’re in that situation, no matter what anyone else says on the subject.
But there have just been so many of them lately — that I haven’t really been giving to any of them. Their proportions kind of made me feel overwhelmed.
Well, if I feel overwhelmed — how in the world do I think they feel? A heck of a lot worse than me, that’s for sure. So why have I been being such a jerk?
Anyway, when we were at the stoplight, my friend said to me, “I don’t have any cash. Do you have a couple bucks?”
And yeah — I had two bucks in my purse. She fished the money out, and I held it out the window to the poor guy, who had to walk all the way down the line of cars for such a small sum. But he was so polite, a perfect gentleman — more gentlemanly than most people you meet in the supermarket with their carts full of junk.
And again I asked myself: what is the matter with me? Why haven’t I been giving to these poor people? I don’t know why they’re in the situations that they’re in — it’s not my place to ask, though I wish them well. But it is my place to help them if I can. And I am in a position where I can. So step up, lady! (I said to myself.)
Have you ever heard Jesus’s parable about the prodigal son? The son left a wealthy home, and ended up starving on the streets. So finally, despite his pride, he said to himself: “This is stupid. Even the servants in my father’s house have more than enough to eat. So — I will go and be a servant in my father’s house.”
But when he got home, of course his father didn’t expect him to be a servant. He welcomed him with open arms, embraced him, and rejoiced at his return. He even had the fatted calf prepared for that night’s feast, in honor of his son’s return.
But now, all this made his other son very angry. “I have been faithful to you, Father,” this other son said, “I have done all you asked of me! I have never failed you — but you have never given me so much as a goat to share for a feast with my friends!”
The second son was deeply hurt. But the father said — “My son, you must understand. You are with me always. ALL THAT I HAVE is yours. There is no question about that. But again, you must understand — your brother was dead, and now is ALIVE again. Do you not see?”
If you belong to God, as I know I do, then all He has belongs to you. It doesn’t have anything to do with the balance in your checking account. (I know, I know — just keep the straitjacket on standby, okay?)
If you love Him, and if you speak for Him, God will give you all you require. I know that, I’ve known it for years — but still, I was being stingy with my money.
It felt good to give that homeless man my change. I wish I’d had a lot more change. Because I would have given him all of it.
Everything that’s God’s is mine — and everything that’s mine is His. So why should I hoard His money?
“My son,” the father said, “you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” — Luke 15:31-32