I'm driving back from our prayerwalk, telling God that I have approx. 2 hours to spare until the concert - (Gungor played, it was EPIC. EPIC. there were cellos) - I didn't know what to do with myself so I told Jesus that the time was his - he could do with it what he wished, I wouldn't be making any plans. In less than 30 seconds I see 2 homeless people. Ok God, I get it.
Remember how you're mom/dad used to tell you to never to give money to the guys holding signs on the side of the road? They're liars & will probably just use it for drugs - honest people in real need don't beg along freeways, they go to shelters and get jobs. Or don't stop because they'll jump you and take your car, stab you with a knife and rape you. Don't touch them, don't be associated with them, they are the scum of the earth, worse than the poor because they have no dignity, dishonest con artists. They ruin it for everyone.
Well, I've never been very good at listening to that stuff. I always find myself breaking the rules. Yes, little ole 5' 4" white girl with minimal upper body strength and a soft take on the Second Amendment likes to get out of the safety of her beat-up ghetto Chevy Prism and chat with the 35-W street beggars. You can too. You know why? Because:
a. They are NOT going to jump you, knife you, or rape you, its bad for their business if all the cars driving past witness them murder a sweet little girl - doesn't exactly inspire generosity - they're always waiting at stoplights so its not like no one would notice. Its important to be discerning (i.e. are there other people around); however, Every beggar I have come across has been extraordinarily gracious and thankful - they understand that at the moment they are the vulnerable and you are the giver.
b. So what if they're con-artists!? Who cares?? I didn't realize that their sin was so much worse than yours - I don't think I read that anywhere in the Bible. Be wise, don't give money, give food. Sit down, have a meal with them - yes, on the side of the road, it won't kill you. Talk with them, listen. If you're afraid that they've got a drug habit, all Jesus asks is that you show love, not read their mind. So pull over, go to a gas station, buy an apple, some pretzels, a sandwich and bring some water for them, I bet they're thirsty - sit down, eat with them and ask them to tell their story. Then pray with them. No one said you had to give money - the government and private organizations have ways of helping them out - 9 out of 10 times they already know this and are getting some sort of assistance. You're job is just to be an encourager for the day.
c. Most importantly, eating a meal with someone shows them that they are worth your time, they are worth acknowledgement, they are worth it to someone - in all their trouble or sin or despair, crassness, deceit or possibly an unrepentant heart, someone is calling out their name, Jesus is calling out their name, he wants to eat with them, to share with them, to pour out his love to their ragamuffin self.
I'm not trying to guilt-trip you into giving someone the shirt off your back (very anti-guilt trip over here). There is just a lot that can happen when you trust Jesus with your time and your money. :) I met Jeremy today on the side of the road. He's trying to get to Louisiana to see his boy. I don't think he was lying. We ate an apple together, chatted a bit. He drank some water. He said thank you about a million times and then I left. People stared and quickly looked away when our eyes met, maybe they were ashamed to glance at our spectacle? I'm not really sure. I suppose it was an odd scene. Whatever :) At least my day was interesting.