Lend To The Lord

Those who are kind to the poor lend to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done. - Proverbs 19:17

Some years ago, when we were living in downtown Chicago, I was making my way to catch the northbound Red Line train at Washington/State when I passed a woman and her daughter who were begging next to the stairs leading down to the station. 

I'd been living in the city long enough to grow a bit jaded by the constant presence of panhandlers, so I merely glanced at her, and kept moving.  

When I got about halfway down the stairs, I was struck by an overwhelming feeling to turn around and go back to her.  I could almost hear a voice speaking to me saying, "Give her something."  

What I knew, however, was that the only money I had in my wallet was a $20 bill, and I wasn't about to hand that over to someone who was begging.  So I kept walking farther down the stairs.  

But the feeling, and the voice, didn't go away.  "Give her something."  

I stopped and slowly made my way back up the stairs, wallet in hand.  I reluctantly fished the $20 bill out and approached the woman and her child.  "Here you go," I said to her, and handed it over.  

When she saw the size of the bill, her eyes widened, "Gracias, Senor! Gracias!"  Her daughter echoed with her own "Gracias, Senor!"  

I was struck to shame in that moment by their gratitude for what I reluctantly, and unwillingly gave to them.  I nodded to them and then nearly ran down the stairs, my eyes filling with tears.  

Later, as I sat on the train barreling through the tunnels under the city, I couldn't shake the feeling that I had somehow failed as a person.  Why didn't I think to give on my own?  Why did I need divine intervention (which I believe it was)?  

Why wasn't my first impulse to give out of my abundance to someone who had none?  

I would like to say that moment created a lasting transformation in me--the kind of transformation that caused me to always err on the side of radical generosity.  I have my moments when I am my best and most generous self, but I have as many moments when I am not.  

It's a daily exercise in faith to live generously with all that we have.  Each day we have a unique opportunity to give of ourselves in ways that demonstrate the presence of Christ to those around us.  

May you live into that best self.  May you find ways to show the kingdom of God through generous living and giving.  And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always.  Amen.  



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