Friday, March 31, 2017

A prayer for beggars

I saw a woman standing on the median yesterday while I waited in my car for the light to turn green. I read her cardboard sign, which asked for money and promised not to spend it on alcohol or drugs. She had a crutch, and I noticed that she limped as she paced.

I admit, I watched her carefully to see if the limp was legit.

I wondered what it would be like to need handouts to survive and why someone would stand all day on a median instead of finding a job. Was she homeless? Jobless? Or was begging her job, and her Honda was parked in the Burger King parking lot across the street?

I was judgey and sympathetic at the same time, and I hated myself for it.
I noticed she didn't look at any of us drivers; she just stared straight ahead, holding her sign steady. I thought she must get tired of drivers not wanting to meet her gaze, themselves staring straight ahead over their steering wheels, uncomfortable and conflicted about her presence.

I looked ahead, too, praying about what to do. Then I pulled out my wallet and found a $5.00 bill. Not sacrificial, not risky, but something. I wondered if my motives were truly kind or just guilty.

The light turned green, and I rolled down my window and held out the bill. She was ready for it, so she must have been watching me, too. She knows the signs of a driver fumbling for a purse, considering what to give. Acting all casual, like giving to beggars is an ordinary experience.

"Thank you! God bless you!" she said.

"Have a good day," I said.

But our eyes barely met.

Lord, God,
Forgive me. I confess that I am proud and self-absorbed and insecure about my calling. Give me a passion to help the hurting. Take away my cynicism and help me see everyone the way You see them. Remove our shame! It's the enemy's tactic to separate people, isolate souls, and increase pain. I pray for you to meet her physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. I pray the blood of Jesus over her and over me. May we both be transformed by Your likeness!
Amen.


"I was hungry, and you gave me something to drink, I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger, and you invited me in." Mtt. 25:35


image by George Hodan