“Everyone needs compassion
Love that’s never failing
Let mercy fall on me
Everyone needs forgiveness
The kindness of a Savior
The hope of nations…”
This song chokes me up. But then again, a lot of songs choke me up! The kids just look at me and shake their heads and say, “Marty’s crying again.” You know what? That’s alright with me. I have a tender heart and I know it. 🙂
Funny thing is though, I have a tender heart, but I don’t always show mercy and compassion. I guess that’s not really funny. Sometimes I’m lead to do something or confess something and I don’t do it. Anyone else do this too? Yeah, I thought so.
There are things that I know I cannot do, watch or listen to. For instance, are there any Law and Order fans? Sydney LOVES Law and Order, specifically CSI. I cannot watch these shows. I get so empathetic for the victim and I can’t stand to put myself through something for “entertainment” that so many people have to live every day. On the other hand, I LOVE spy movies and shows! I know, I’m weird. I can live with that. Let’s get back to what I was saying though…
We were discussing homeless people this week. When we drive or walk by someone in distress, what do we do? How do we feel? I was told that a certain percent of people holding a sign for money (pan-handler) might make as much as $40,000 a year! This person giving me this info doesn’t think much about helping people on the street since there’s no way to know if it’s a scam or not. To a certain extent, I kind of agree… then my compassion kicks in. I don’t know what someone’s background is. I don’t know where they lay their heads at night. I don’t know where they will spend the money they are given or earn… but God does. He sees everything. He knows the heart of each person. Whether the money or food or clothes or whatever that I give is used for the intended purpose or if it’s misused for something else, God sees that too. He’s looking at the heart. Please don’t let scams pull you off of helping “the least of these”.
I took the kids for ice cream one afternoon last Spring. It’s a seasonal place so it was pretty busy since it was a nice afternoon. As we pulled in, we noticed a guy sitting on his bike holding a sign that read, “homeless, please help”. He was shamelessly looking at people as they pulled in and out and offering his cup. As we placed our orders, I had my eye on the guy. I asked the people working there if they knew him. They didn’t. He’d been sitting there all day but nobody had thought to go and talk with him. Drew said, “You’re going to go give him your change, aren’t you.” It wasn’t a question. I just smiled and told the kids to be on their best behavior and have a seat and wait for me.
I had money in my hand and walked over to the guy. I had planned to just slip the money into his cup and walk away, but I was compelled to shake his hand and ask if I could have a seat on the ground next to him.
Ok, this guy was BUSHY! He was dirty, smelly and hadn’t shaved in who knows how long! He was also downwind 🙂 Think Forrest Gump when he just decides to go run… and run… and run… only without the following!
I asked his name and where he had come from… where was he going? Come to find out, his name was Alan and he has been riding his bike back and forth between family members in SC, PA and VA for 20 years. His bike was an old cruiser bike but he had everything you could imagine needing attached to it. He had a water cooler strapped to the handlebars, on the back was a bedroll and small hiking tent. Beneath the seat was strapped a backpacking stove and shower! He explained that he would travel and then get work for awhile. He would use the money he was given and had earned for hotels when the weather was bad. He was a construction worker by trade. He would like to learn brick laying. He wasn’t afraid of hard labor. But he just couldn’t stay in one place very long before he would need to move on. He said his Dad died when he was young and it was a hard subject. So I told him I understood, when a parent (or anyone close to you) dies, it alters your life and I shared with him that my Dad had also died when I was young.
That’s all it took. Alan opened up and shared his story. He told me that when he was young, his Dad had been diagnosed with Cancer. He was dieing and didn’t want his family to see him weak. So he had sent his son away. Alan said his Dad died after he left and he didn’t even get to go to the funeral. (By now I’m in tears.) So he had been riding ever since. He had been in a few places where he had good work and could have stayed, but he couldn’t bring himself to get attached.
Oh how my heart was breaking for this man I didn’t know! He had the appearance of an older man but his eyes were not all that much older than mine! He was running. He didn’t know what from or who to, but he was RUNNING!
I told him I didn’t understand how people could make it through all of the pain without hope… my hope is in Jesus. He said he knew about Jesus but he wasn’t sure he believed in Him. I didn’t push faith on him. That day I felt I just needed to listen.
Then the kids brought me back to real time. I looked over to check on them and found many people watching us. He noticed I was looking at someone and I told him I needed to get back to the kids but I thanked him for sharing his space and his story with me. Yes, I handed him the money in my hand… and wished with all my heart I could give him a whole lot more! It wasn’t money this man was seeking. This man was in search of a Savior and he didn’t know it!
Some who read this story may be bewildered why I didn’t sit down and give the whole plan of salvation to Alan that day. You know, sometimes we just have to plant a seed. We’re not going to be the one to grow or reap the harvest every time. How can they believe if they have not heard? Somewhere along Alan’s past, someone had already shared with him about Jesus. This time I think God was using me to show him Jesus. Alan is another chapter that has been added to my heart. I hope and pray that someday he will find the One he is searching for. Maybe it will be you who is asked to sit and listen and share. Will you have the time?
Everyone needs compassion, love that’s neverfailing. Let mercy fall on me (and you, and you and you!).