What I should’ve done…
Yesterday was another cold day in the Texas Hill Country. I had been wanting to go visit my sister in Pearsall for a few weeks, but life demands made it difficult. Yesterday, my husband and I decided we’d brave the brutal temperatures to visit her down south. It was so cold!!! Even down south was not far enough south to avoid this artic blast. Somehow that four degree difference did not seem to make a bit of difference. Nevertheless, we made the two-hour drive to Pearsall from Kerrville. Along the way, up I-10 most people are bundled up, others not so much. It’s pretty obvious we aren’t use to these cold temps. We don’t know how to dress. One sad fact about freezing temps here and probably most places is the homeless population who have to scramble to find a warm place to spend the night. Those that don’t make it to a shelter you see out in street corners, peddling. One can only pray they are trying to raise enough funds to pay for a bed for the night. It breaks your heart. Homelessness has many faces. Sometimes, one of those faces catches your eye. I see it as God says “That one. Go feed that one.” You are so moved and so compelled, you act.
That’s what happened last night. Before making the trip to my sister’s place, my husband and I were going to stop for a bite to eat, but we couldn’t decide where. We usually go to Denny’s, but we were in San Antonio and willing to try some other place. Up and down the highway, there’s lots of places to eat, so I suggested getting of at the main drag. No doubt, we’d find something there. I pointed out the popular places to my husband….there’s this place, that place, etc. and right under the highway is Denny’s. We both said, let’s just go to Denny’s. Well, we made our way to Denny’s. Traffic was not that bad, but gosh, I couldn’t help but notice all the homeless out, wearing nothing but light jackets, some of them wrapped in those small fleece throw blankets for added warmth. It’s really cold outside! Gosh! I hope these folks are looking for a warm place to weather out these freezing temps, I told my husband.
Well, we pulled into the Denny’s. We parked. As we are getting out of our car, this young woman catches my eye. I had noticed her earlier. She was one wrapped in a fleece throw to keep warm. She’s walking down the sidewalk. I know we are going to cross paths. It seems like she’s going to go right past us. She’s seems focused on something. As we make our way to the sidewalk, she turns suddenly and asks if we had a couple of dollars to get something to eat. She was really hungry, she said. I started fumbling through my purse to find her a few dollars. As I fumble she starts to tell us how she was in a car accident and split her head open and she had recently been released. And she was just trying to get some money to get something to eat. It was heart wrenching to face this very dilemma my husband and I were just talking about. I kept wondering why this young woman, fresh out of the hospital, was walking the streets in this cold weather. Well, that’s a question with no answer. I handed her a few dollars and she thanked us, very appreciatively. We both were hard-pressed to find words to described how we felt at that very moment. We forgot it and went into the restaurant. As we looked around, we noticed only two waitresses working. The bus boy cleaned up a table for us and sat us. Someone had left a $5 tip on the table and he cleaned around it. He would not pick it up. He sat us and let the waitress know we were seated. To make sure the waitress noticed us he left the $5 bill on the edge of the table.
Well, after a few minutes we were doubting whether we would get service. We were trying to get to my sister’s house, that was still a forty-five minute drive, and this wait was delaying our arrival time. We thought about going else where when the waitress finally showed up to take our drink order. She apologized for the wait. We both wanted coffee and she had started a fresh pot, she said… so she’d bring it as soon as it was ready. It did not take long for her to return with our coffee. Coffee was fresh and hot! My husband and I are talking away when he gestures to me to look over to the counter. “Look, he says, there’s that young woman that asked us for money. She really wanted money to get some food.” She’s sitting at the counter, also waiting for someone to wait on her. I know I had not given her enough money for a Denny’s meal, so I asked my husband if he minded if we paid for her meal. He said no. I knew he wouldn’t mind, but I asked anyway. When the waitress came over to take our order we pointed her out and asked her to put her meal on our ticket. The woman had gotten up and come over by the door where we were sitting. I had my back to her so I could not see what she was doing. The waitress, for some odd reason, motion for the woman to come to our table and told her, “They’re going to pay for your meal, so order whatever you want.” I don’t think she recognized us from earlier. Either way she thanked us again. We just said, “You’re welcome.” We were not looking for attention. We just knew she was hungry and wanted to make sure she had a nice hot meal.
Well, again my husband says, “Look, she’s sharing her meal with someone.” Both of them hungry and cold sat down to enjoy a warm meal. From the ticket, we knew they had shared a Lumberjack Slam. The woman came over again to thank us and we again said you’re welcome. We really didn’t want any thanks. So, we sat and talked, ate and then out of the blue my husband shares this You Tube video that he’d found hilarious. He’s holding his phone at the edge of the table, and I’m watching it. It was hilarious and we were laughing. Out of the corner of my eye it looks like this woman is approaching us again, but she notices that we are watching something on the phone and she quickly turns away. I did not look up. I just kept my eyes on the phone. For all I know she may have needed to use the restroom and changed her mind. When we left she was no where around.
We finally made it to my sister’s place, visited for a couple of hour, had a great time chatting with her and her partner. I hadn’t seen her in a while. It was not to late when we finally left. The entire ride home, this woman was on my mind. Not so much the woman, but how we responded to her after we offered to buy her meal.
On the drive home, I talked with my husband about the whole experience. In some of our previous conversations, I’ve explained that when I give money to a homeless person, I offer it and it’s forgotten. How that money helps, or doesn’t is in God’s hands. I’m not always prompted, or compelled to give. When I am and I have cash on me, I give. What are the chances that I will ever see that same homeless person again? Well, it depends on the situation of the homeless person, but never. How I came face to face with this woman, well it can only be by divine appointment.
The lesson here was unexpected and I failed miserably. What I did, and what I should have done the Lord said… You heard me. You responded. You did well. You had the opportunity to show someone my love and three times you thought it was about you. She came over, more than once and you could have asked her to join you, to sit and dine with you, but you didn’t. She even shared what she had just experienced and you could find no time to show compassion, to lend an ear, to show her that there is a God and He sees her. God saw that woman last night. God saw this woman last night. This past year, like none before He showed me how much he loves me. I was left in awe. When confronted by one in need of love I was hard-pressed to show that same love. My prayer for that woman is this, if anything we did showed her that there is a God and He does see her need and her pain, I pray that the Lord will protect her and guide her to their meeting place. For this wretched woman, I ask for forgiveness.
Luke 12 says…”For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required;…
Some folks have riches beyond measure and can’t find it in their heart to share, other’s not so much, but some have nothing and yet share all they have, little as it may appear to be.
The Lord has not blessed me with money, or riches, but He has loved me beyond measure. Much love has been given to this woman. How can I deny anyone that same love, when I too am so undeserving. Giving is giving. And God gave All for all.
Freezing temperatures have tested my outwear and I am not prepared. I can’t even find a warm coat, not a pretty coat, or stylish even, but a nice warm coat, that does not cost an arm and a leg. I may not wear it but for a few days, maybe. God has tested my ability to show love, to respond in love and I was not prepared. It’s a cold world out there and if the man or woman of God is not prepared to offer a warm cup of love, well…
hmmm….just something to think about. Be blessed. Luke 12:54-56 Then He also said to the multitudes, “Whenever you see a cloud rising out of the west, immediately you say, ‘A shower is coming’; and so it is. And when you see the south wind blow, you say, ‘There will be hot weather’; and there is. Hypocrites! You can discern the face of the sky and of the earth, but how is it you do not discern this time?