On Seizing Opportunity (1/26/09)
I kept thinking maybe I should go over and offer him some food, or some money. It was around lunchtime, and the thought crossed my mind that perhaps he had staked out this spot intentionally, with the goal of acquiring a meal. It was awkward, though–I couldn’t think of how to best approach him. “Umm, excuse me, sir. Would you care for a sandwich?” (Definitely food, I decided, the teachings of a lifetime ringing in my head–no money, you never know when “they” might spend it on alcohol…) Or–was he even homeless? I suddenly wondered. I mean, maybe he was just…er…enjoying the crisp, cool air. One thing was certain: I did not want to offend his pride, or make myself look like a moron.
All these thoughts, and more, ran through through my mind as the gas finished pumping and I settled myself back in the car. I had managed to get myself completely worked up by now–I just did not know how to go about doing what I knew I needed to do.
And so, I am ashamed to say, I turned right out of the Sheetz, passed directly under the stoplight, and kept on going. I did not stop. I did not pass Go.
By the time I got to the end of the next street, though, I was practically in tears. You see, I have seen myself, over the last decade or so, growing increasingly calloused to the needs of others. I used to be so tender-hearted in my youth…and in certain ways, I still am. I can’t bear to kill a Grand-Daddy LongLegs, for example, and I am a sucker when it comes to a kitten. But I have found it easier to harden my heart as a protection, I think, as I have grown older. There’s so much suffering out there. It hurts to dwell too much in it, to be too much a part of it.
I have been very convicted by the example of Christ here lately, though–far different from my own insularity. Jesus was wide open to the hurts of others. He took them upon himself, holding nothing back. He was unafraid, unashamed.
Considering this, and the compelling voice inside that kept saying, “turn around,” I did so at the end of that street. I made a circuit around the block, deciding that I would go through the drive-thru, get a combo, and just roll down the window and offer it to him casually, with a simple, “I have extra, would you like?” My heart pounded with excitement and pride in my own courage.
As I came around in front of Chick-fil-A, that same heart stuttered and dropped. There he was, poised in flight on the edge of the street, waiting for a break in traffic. As I watched, halted behind a couple of cars, he seized his opportunity and bolted across the street.
Guess I missed mine.