Monday, September 28, 2015

Giving naively.

I was in Los Angeles just recently traveling between one meeting and another when I saw at a stop light a man who was asking for money:

"Please help.  I have a daughter and we are homeless.  Help us in Jesus' name."

I quickly looked for something to give him.  I didn't have any cash on me that was accessible before the light turned green . . . and what is the deal with that "in Jesus' name" thing?  That was really manipulative.  Who puts that on a sign other than someone who is obviously trying to guilt you into giving money?  He is probably going to just use it on drugs or booze?

- so went my interior dialogue . . . long enough for the light to change - 

As I pulled away I remember Christ's Words "give to everyone who asks of you." (Luke 6:30)

Notice it doesn't say, "give to everyone who asks of you except if you know for sure that they are going to misuse your donated funds."  Or "give to everyone who asks of you unless they shame you into giving in the name of religion - in that case ignore them and drive right by."  No, it says simply "give" - to everyone who asks.

And it was about that time that I saw I had fruit in the car that I could have at least given him.

I was feeling pretty lousy.  

So I did the next best thing.  I asked God for a second chance.  I mean, God is a God of second chances, right?  The resurrection is a huge testament to the fact that once and done is not the formula.  Grace is the ability to keep coming to God "while we [are] yet sinners."

So I prayed that I would have a second chance.

Well guess what.  Two days later I was passing through the same neighborhood - completely forgetting about this guy and my second chance.  I was at a light and looked to my left to see some guy with a sign and it took a second or two but then it hit me - my second chance!

I looked around in the car and I grabbed a banana.

Wait . . . a banana?

God gave you a second chance for a banana?

Yeah, but the light just turned green . . . and the only other thing I have is a large bill and that is way too much for someone who will probably spend it on drugs.

A banana?  Seriously?

And then it hit me.  When Jesus tells us to give to everyone who asks of us, it is a naive giving.  Yeah, he might be a fake with a nice car and a home somewhere.  He might just be a junkie, but that is not for me to figure out.  I felt like God took me at my word for a second chance and reaching for a banana would just ruin it.

So with the light green and five cars stacked behind me and someone laying on their horn, I rolled down my window and ignominiously yelled, "HEY!"

He ran over and grabbed the money and said, "God bless you."

He already had.  Lesson learned - give naively.

Give it without thought of return.

Even if you miss it, pray for your second chance.

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