A few days ago I took a drive up to a local convenience store by my house to buy a soft drink and a bag of Doritos. I don’t know what it is, but every now and then I just have this craving for a Pepsi and a bag of Spicy Nacho Doritos. There is just something about that combination that I really like. Maybe it’s all that salt, caffeine, and sugar that keeps me coming back. Why do they have to place all those Doritos bags on the end of the aisles where they are constantly whispering my name the second I walk in the door anyway? Just like they place all those toys for the Happy Meals at McDonald’s right at the kids eye level to try to entice them to scream at their parents until they get what they want. I usually sit in the car as soon as I make my purchase, eat the whole bag of Doritos and gulp down a 32 oz Pepsi. It is like a special treat since we usually don’t keep that type of so-called junk food around the Smith house.
This time I had my car parked up near the front of the store just outside a Red Box movie location when two guys walked up close to my car with scummy looking backpacks on. I didn’t think much of it at first until I happened to glance up after polishing off my last Dorito and I see a young man who looked to be about 16 years old waving to me with his left hand and trying to talk to me. I had the windows rolled up so I couldn’t hear what he was saying and to tell you the truth, I was really just trying to ignore him because I pretty much figured he was homeless and he was trying to ask me for some money. This kid looked pretty clean-cut but the older guy he was with looked real dirty, had a long stringy tangled up beard, and his clothes were pretty well disheveled and wrecked out just like the baseball cap on his head.
The young kid kept motioning to me and I pretended not to see him as I kept my head down, put my truck in reverse and pulled out of the parking lot. I am not sure why I pulled out so fast without even offering him a single dollar, but I did. Maybe I wasn’t sure of what he would do, or maybe I was not sure what the other guy with him might do but I left anyway and headed back to my house which was only about a block or so away. As I drove down the street to my house, the Holy Spirit started dealing with me, and asking me why I didn’t help those two guys when I had a chance. I only had ten dollars with me at the time, but I could have given them at least a few dollars. I stopped before I got home, turned my car around and went back to the Red Box location to see if the homeless guys were still there and they had already left.
Yesterday while I was on the way to an office store I pulled up to a red light just before the freeway on ramp and there she was. The sun was shining bright and I had the music turned up loud. All I wanted to do was to get to the store and get back home. I couldn’t avoid her though since I was at the front of the line and she was standing only about 15 feet from me. Her hair was long, grey, and a total mess as it blew haphazardly in the wind. Her clothes were dirty and crumpled all over. In her withered, rough hands she held a cardboard sign that read “Homeless and Hungry Please Help – GOD BLESS YOU”. She looked to be about sixty years old. My windows were rolled up again. I opened my wallet and pulled out a five dollar bill, turned down the radio, rolled down the car window and motioned for her to come over with my hand hanging over the edge of the door.
She approached the car and we just stared at each other for a few seconds without saying anything as I gave her the five dollars. I broke the silence and asked her if she was okay. “What an ignorant question to ask someone who is homeless?” I thought after I had already blurted out my stupidity. She stared back at me deep into my eyes and with a mouth full of missing teeth said ” I don’t have a home now and I was beat up”. I grabbed her rough hand, held it in mine and said, “What’s your name?” “Donna”, she said. I replied – “Donna I’m sorry, I will pray for you.” “Thank you so much”, she said. And with that she walked back over to her position she was in where she was pleading with her sign for people to help her. I rolled up the window since the light was getting ready to change and she glanced over at me. Just then I could see her mouth say the words – “Thank you”, as I put my foot on the gas and pulled off.
I made it to the Staples Office store which was only a few blocks from where Donna was standing and pulled into the parking lot. With tear drops wetting my eyes I bowed my head down on the steering wheel and prayed for Donna. I realized in that moment that it could be me or anyone for that matter. We are all only just a few paychecks or sicknesses away from standing on a street corner just like Donna. I know I should have done more. So many times in the past I’ve driven on by the homeless and tried to ignore them as if they were invisible. Thank you LORD for making me see those I have made invisible with my own eyes and for giving me another opportunity to help those in need. All we have belongs to you anyway GOD and we are just managing what you give us.
Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also himself shall cry, and not be heard.
Proverbs 21:13 KJV