Maybe you can find something (or someone) a little closer.

His-and-Hers-Brown-Bag-Lunch-9As I’ve mentioned before, you can live out in the middle of nowhere, and people will find your home, especially if you are the pastor and you live next door to the church. One thirty-something gentleman that I remember from our Connecticut days drove up our drive way and knocked at the door one evening. He told what I came to learn was the usual story: in-between jobs, family to feed, anything I can do to help. Not that we had that much cash anyway, but in those pre-ATM days, you couldn’t even go out and easily get some. You usually had to go to the bank and cash a check.

But we didn’t send him home empty-handed. We packed up a few supper leftovers, a few non-perishables in the pantry, and he was thankful. He also came back every few weeks with a similar story, and we sent him home with similar provisions. Some bread, a little tuna, a couple pieces of fruit, whatever. We just did the best we could.

We talked each time and I got to know him a little bit better. On one occasion, I learned that he had found a job, but needed money for gas. In the course of the conversation, I learned that he had driven from another town, about thirty miles away, to come and see me. When I told him that he would have had enough gas to get back and forth to work had he not made the sixty-mile round trip to my house, he didn’t quite understand what I meant.

Even though he did come by the house a few more times, I didn’t help him any more after that. I finally had to tell him not to come back to our house and seek help closer to home. He only came back once more, about a month later. I guess he thought I might have had a change of heart.

I learned that you don’t have to give a lot to help someone. Just what you have. And you don’t have to do it forever. Just for a time. Our efforts sometimes have ends as well as beginnings.

I’m being watched

4-QuartersMy phone buzzed, I glanced down and saw this text: “Why did you give money to that man?”

It was a text from one of the young people from our church who had seen me hand four quarters to a man on the other side of the Kangaroo station gas pump. I had just finished filling up when I heard him ask, “Sir, can you add anything to this dollar?”

“I’m sorry,” I said, “I don’t have anything.” I rarely carry cash. But when I got in the car, I saw four quarters in the cup holder, left over from when I put some air in the tires. Not much, but what the heck. I got out and handed the man what I had, apologizing, “It’s not much, but here’s a few quarters.” That’s when I got the text.

She was in the car with her grandmother on the other side of the parking lot. I texted back and explained what had happened. She came back, “Ohh…you did a good deed.”

“Yep. Jesus said helping others is like helping him.” Plus a lot more, apparently. Because you never know who’s watching (and in these times someone is always¬†watching). Something like this, which I did without even thinking, made a difference in more lives than I realized.

I’ve been in lots of discussions about who we should help and who we shouldn’t. We get frustrated when we’re taken advantage of, or when someone isn’t grateful, or by the sheer number of people who need our help. It’s good to have these discussions. But it’s also important to remember who’s watching. Like our kids. Or our friends. Or someone we didn’t see.