I wasn’t sure if the woman was drunk, or high, or ill.
I was almost home when I saw her stumbling along the sidewalk alone.
She had a few bandages on her arms and some papers in her hands.
As I watched, she sat on the sidewalk, then changed her mind and struggled to her feet again.
By this time I needed to make my turn. I wrestled with whether or not I should stop and help her. She was probably at least 50 years old, weak, and not in the least a threat to me.
Why shouldn’t I help her?
But what could I do? I looked in my car for something I could offer her — food, water? Nothing.
My heart pounded with that “I-think-God-wants-me-to-do-something” urgency.
I hurried home, stuffed some healthy snack food, bottles of water, and a business card with info about our church into a paper bag then drove back to see if the woman was still nearby.
“God, If you really want me to do this, then help me find her,” I prayed.
And there she was. Again, striving to stand after a short rest.
I put my hazard lights on and pulled up beside her.
“Ma’am are you okay?”
She mumbled something I couldn’t understand. She was clearly not okay.
I put my minivan in park, and got out to talk to her.
The cuts and bruises on her face told me she’d been the brunt of someone’s recent anger.
I asked her name.
Her speech was slow, as if it pained her to move her mouth.
“Robin, did someone hurt you?”
“Yeah, but I left him. I reported him.”
“Did you get help?”
She claimed she’d spent the last week in the hospital and showed me her dismissal papers, but she was so dirty and ragged, I couldn’t imagine where she’d been between her release and now.
I asked where she was going.
“My cousin’s house. I’m almost there.”
I offered her my bag of water and food, but soon realized there was no way she could continue her walk with an added burden, no matter how small.
“Can I take you there?” (What in the world I was getting myself into?)
I opened the door for her, and she sort of fell into the seat.
I felt ashamed and ridiculous to find myself wondering if this was a safe thing to do.
This woman couldn’t stand, let alone do me any harm, yet my adrenaline was pumping as if I was taking a huge risk.
We got to the stoplight and she tried to get out, intending to cross the street and reach her cousin’s house on her own. Thankfully, I was able to persuade her to let me take her the rest of the way.
“The rest of the way” became a little nebulous. After we turned the corner, she had no idea where to go. We cruised the neighborhood for a few minutes to jog her memory, but she was lost.
I stopped and knocked on a random door to see if the residents might happen to know her cousin. Not surprisingly, they didn’t.
Our last resort was an elementary school. School had just dismissed, and I spied a policewoman overseeing the pick-up line. I prayed she’d be compassionate and helpful.
We parked, and I helped Robin ease out of her seat. If I let go of her arm for a second, she threatened to topple.
The policewoman assured me she would take care of Robin from there. She began an online search for Robin’s cousin. I gave her my phone number “just in case,” and said goodbye.
I don’t know what happened to Robin after that. I prayed for God’s hand to bring hope and healing.
But I wonder now, just like I wondered that day… if that policewoman hadn’t taken Robin, what would I have done?
Would I have “dared” bring her home to meet her glaring needs before seeking further help?
Would I have let her interrupt my day for more than 20 minutes?
Where is she now? Back on the street?
Where would she be now if I had allowed my relationship with her to extend past those few moments?
Sunday night at “BLING,” our middle school girls’ Bible study, the first question in our book was,
“How we can we store treasure in Heaven instead of on Earth?”
The girls’ answer: “Give to the poor.”
But do they — do I — know the poor?
Are we stirred up when we read about a young woman who adopts 14 orphans and lives alongside the lost and needy in Uganda?
Do we hear about the modern-day orphans of our cities and long to do something?
Does the issue of human trafficking make us wonder if we could do anything to bring healing to breaking hearts?
Are we ever a little sickened by the excess of the “much” that we’ve been given, and wonder just for a minute if perhaps we’re not doing the “much” that is required of us?
Do we really believe…
The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’
… to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’
(Matthew 25:40, 45b)
I don’t have all the answers today. (As opposed to every other day… ha!)
But I pray that God won’t let me be content with “going through the motions” of Christianity.
How has God challenged you lately to use your much?
(And that’s not theoretical — I really want to know! You have no idea how many people might grow and be challenged by what God is teaching you!)