Thursday, July 3, 2008

Walking the walk

This post follows the theme of my sweet heart post.

Last week M and I drove to the west side. (west siiiiide!) I meant to get gas before leaving town but was distracted by 5 little monkeys jumping on the bed, so we were riding on E. As I drove I wondered what I would do if we ran out out gas somewhere on the reservation. Scott was at a Bible Study, so I knew his phone would be off. In my mind different scenarios played out...and I hoped that someone would help us if needed.

Fast forward to the gas station. While filling up, I noticed a lady walking toward me...her hands clutching a gas can. I groaned to myself as it's VERY common in our city for panhandlers to hang out at gas stations.

She asked for money. I said, "No." She walked away.

Immediately my stomach dropped. A kick in the pants from God, I suppose. Had I so quickly forgotten my own desires for help if I would have run out of gas? And now here I was denying assistance to someone in need...someone who, like me, may have been hoping for help as she was "riding on E."

I started digging in my bag to find some cash, all the time watching the lady's unsuccessful attempts to get help. My eyes darted from the disgusted faces of those she approached to hers which grew more pained with each rejection.

With M observing the entire scene, I ran up to the lady, offered her the money, we talked briefly, and she quickly went into the station to buy her gas. Driving away, I watched her fill up her can as I explained the whole situation to Matthew.

This isn't a "Look, I did a nice thing" story, it is a sharing of the true ugliness in my heart apart from God. Now some would say that you shouldn't give money to people like this because you never know what they might use it for. I'm not so sure that's the correct response. Afterall, this lady was using it...was needing it...for gas to get home.

I don't want my first assumption about people to be negative. I want to respond first and foremost with God's love...and let Him give me discernment if needed. I'm not advocating putting yourself in danger or being unwise in the stewardship of your money, but I'm suggesting a change of heart that will lead to a change in actions.

I recently read an excerpt from Red Letters by Tom Davis which drove home what I have been feeling about this gas station situation:

"Would you help me?" he asked.
That stupid voice went off in my head again. The same voice that speaks to me when I happen upon a panhandler back home in the States. He'll probably just buy vodka if we give him money. That inner voice--it's mine. And it could very well be speaking the truth. But it's not the voice I want to hear. I want to hear Jesus. Did he put conditions on the help He offered? A familiar story elbowed it's way past my hesistancy. A story of Jesus helping a woman caught in adultery. Jesus didn't refuse to help the woman because she might sin again. He forgave her and told her to sin no more. She was worth the risk. She was worth helping.

The point of all of this? Walking the walk. How quickly after I was encouraging M to open his heart to those in need did I close my heart to one in need? And why? Because I assumed that she would misuse the money? Because I assumed that her motives might be impure?

I don't want to assume...or to hear my inner voice. I want to hear the voice of Jesus. I want to simply love. And love with the love of Christ.

It can be much easier to give to the cute orphans on the front of a glossy brochure than the smelly, dirty man on the street corner. But the "love your neighbor" command doesn't come with a list of exceptions. If we want our little ones to grow up with big hearts, we must model compassion and giving and love...especially when it stretches us.


Rebecca said...

I loved this post, because this has been on my heart lately too.

The truth is that it DOES NOT MATTER what the recipient does with our generosity... it is our giving (and the spirit with which we give) that matters. God honors that.

And what a great life lesson for little M. :)


Mark, Rebecca and Sophia said...

Man, we are so on the same path right now. This too struck me in Red Letters. I have had so many similar experiences, and am working on letting God work on my heart.

What a lesson for M. I want to teach those same lessons to Sophia.

I am so excited to have found you! Wonderful post my new friend!

Sherry said...

I loved your post. Now if everyone across the world just read it:) LOL! Your already teaching baby Matthew so much... thanks for sharing!

BTW~ thanks for posting the funny comment on Kobi's last post. I was gonna erase it but thought nay... someone out there will laugh at it like me:) Hehe!

stefanie said...

i have a song that kati told me about that i want you to listen to. i think you would like it for more reasons than one. . .
go to and type in "this is a call." it's the first one that should pop up.

i see you in SIX days!!

Qiuqiu's parents said...

This is a difficult subject, and an inner debate for all of us, I think. It's not always easy to make the correct assumption about people. In this case, you observed and saw a real need. We have to keep our hearts and minds open, I think. It's always important not to make blanket judgments, lest we judge in error. Good for you for taking the time and putting the thought into it, rather than walking away.

jean said...

Tish - thank you so much for this post. I recently took the Crown Financial introductory class at Calvary and the topic of this kind of giving came up. After listening to the teacher I thought that I should tuck some ready cash away in an easy to access place in my car and have it available rather than hurriedly fumbling around to find some money to give to people on street corners asking for help. I haven't done that yet, but this reminds me that I need to complete this promise to help God's people in need. God has blessed me with the resources to bless others - it's time I do. Thanks for your beautiful story and reminder.

Tiffany and Gabriel said...

Beautiful. Tish, you are really an inspiration. Please know that you affect the lives of everyone here in such a positive manner.