Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Least of These

This afternoon, I had the opportunity to do something that I've never done before. I had run to Sam's to pick up some milk, I had forgotten to go earlier in the day, so it was close to dinner time, and I knew Tyler would be home soon, but Ryder needed milk so off we went. As I was putting my cart back, I noticed a couple in the parking lot and the guy, who obviously didn't work there since he wasn't wearing the blue vest, was straightening the carts, I thought we might be kindred spirits, since I always do the same thing. Call it OCD, but those carts drive me nuts! The woman walked up to me as I headed back to my car, she looked distraught, and asked if I had any change that I could share. She proceeded to explain that her car was out of gas, and she was stuck there. The guy offered that they had a gas can. I offered to use my Sam's card and they could fill the can with their own money, but she quickly explained that they had no money, no cash or debit cards. Now, I have no idea if their story was true, and I have a tendency to think the worst of people sometimes and usually just apologize and say I can't help, which is exactly what I did. I walked to my car considering their situation more, then I sat in my car and watched as they approached two more couples. One was older and looked somewhat well off. I heard the woman ask the same questions and then say, "If I had more time I would help, but I have to get these pizzas home for dinner." I thought, "Will they be able to eat dinner tonight?" The other couple shook their heads without even speaking and walked away. At this point, I should've been out of the parking lot and well on my way home, but I couldn't move. I kept thinking, "What if it were me or someone I loved that was in this situation? I would want someone to help!"

So I said a quick prayer that God would help me, and I got back out of my car, walked over to them and said I would buy them $15 worth of gas to put in their gas tank. I drove over to the pump and met them there with their red gas can. I put in my Sam's card and then ran my debit card careful to keep my information private. The man took the nozzle and began filling the can. They both began to tell me how they both had jobs but didn't get paid until tomorrow and Friday, and that another family member had used the car earlier today and left them without any gas. I asked if $15 would be enough for what they needed, hoping so since we have little money to spare at this time. He said they were on their way to a town about an hour and a half away to pick up their children, a seven month old and two and a half year old so the $15 should be plenty. They said that after Christmas they just didn't have any moeny left because they wanted their kids to have a nice Christmas. In all honesty, I would probably have been doing the same thing, feeling ashamed for having to ask a total stranger for money, and trying desperately to defend myself. I hated that they felt that way and assured them that I understood that sometimes these things happen, and that I wished I could do more but was happy to help. I fished a card from my purse that had information about our church and our MOPS program, and invited them both to visit sometime. They thanked me and even asked a little about my church. They filled their can, thanked me, promised to pay it forward, and the man said"God bless you," and then they headed on their way. I sat at the pump for a few seconds thinking about what had just happened, wondering if I had done enough, if should've asked their name, if I had made a total error injudgment or not. The gas attendant was walking around trying to see if everything was on the up and up, I appreciated that, so I smiled and headed home.

I have no idea if their story was true, and I'll probably never know, but a passage of scripture kept coming to mind, about going the extra mile for those in need. I also thought about how Christ never questioned anyone's motives when they asked Him for help, He just served others. I don't know if it was a sham, I hope not, I hope I was truly able to help a family in need, but even if it was a sham, the bigger issue was my obedience. I can't answer for the motives of others, but I will have to answer for what I do with what I'm presented. As I drove home, I prayed for that couple, because even more than a financial or physical need, they had a spiritual need, and I hoped that maybe my small action today would plant a seed in leading them to the One who loves them and created them.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’  “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink?  Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’" Matthew 25:34-40

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