A couple weeks before Christmas, I took a day off work to run some errands and do some Christmas shopping. I threw a couple of old coats that I didn’t wear any more into the car before I left. My first stop was at the medical clinic downtown. It didn’t take me long there and when I finished I headed to a friend’s shop to see if they were still collecting coats for the needy. The shop wasn’t open, so I headed towards my next stop. When I got to the stop sign, I put on my right turn signal. But before I could turn ...
I heard a strong voice in my head – “Turn Left.”
"That’s weird", I said to myself – I need to go right.
But I heard it again – “Turn left. Someone down there needs a coat.”
So I turned off my right turn signal and gingerly turned left. I wasn’t sure what I was headed into, but sure enough, not even a block down, there were 2 homeless ladies, one sitting on a bench and the other standing beside her. The lady on the bench only had on a sweater. It was cold outside, so I figured she might be the one that needed the coat.
I was feeling a little weird about the whole “voice in my head” thing, but I turned around and pulled into a parking spot next to them and started arguing with myself. “I can’t just walk up to a total stranger and offer her a coat!” “What if I offend her?” “What if it makes her really angry and she’s mean to me?” “I can’t do this – it’s way out of my comfort zone!”
There it was again, the voice – the strong feeling that I couldn’t ignore. “Get out of your car and take her the coat.”
So I got out of the car and grabbed one of the coats – still arguing with myself. “I can’t do this. I can’t do this. It’s too weird.” But I kept hearing: “GIVE HER THE COAT, NOW.”
So I took the coat and walked over to the bench. I stopped in front of the lady in the sweater and said, “Can I ask you a question without offending you?” She said yes, so I asked her if she needed a coat. She looked up at me nodding her head and answered yes. I handed the coat to her and said, “Here. Take this coat. And Merry Christmas.”
The look on her face was one of shock and her lip started to quiver. She was so appreciative and by now, my heart was overflowing with the joy of giving. I turned to the other lady that was with her and asked her if she needed a coat, since I still had one in the car. She said no, she didn’t need a coat, but she could surely use some gloves. I dug into my own pockets and gave her the gloves I had with me. She tried to protest - saying that she didn’t want to take my own gloves – but I insisted she take them. By this time, we all three were there with tears in our eyes. I wished them a Merry Christmas and went back to my car.
I got back in my car and drove away. I had listened to the promptings of God and I had received more of a blessing than those homeless ladies I had served. I was riding high emotionally - excited at how it felt to obey and step out of my comfort zone. It was one of those joyful moments that words can hardly express and nothing can taint!
Until I got to my next stop.
As I got ready to head into a store, I reached for my wallet in the console of my car and it wasn’t there. I dug around in the car, looking under the seats, down the sides by the doors, everywhere! It just wasn’t there. I had lost my wallet – with my driver’s license and credit cards – my whole life.
First fear began to rise in me – I could be a victim of identity theft – there was plenty of personal information in that wallet! Then anger replaced the fear. My mind went to some dark places and I found myself thinking – “Really God? Really? I just did what you asked. I stepped out and served the homeless and this is my repayment?” Then I found myself wondering if I had dropped my wallet downtown by the homeless people and whether they found it and were stealing everything in it right now.
I retraced my steps from the morning, but no one had seen my wallet. I talked to the local community officer and he told me he knew the homeless ladies I had helped and that they were good people who had fallen on hard times and he was sure they wouldn’t have stolen my wallet or would turn it in if they did find it. So I went back to the ladies, but only the one I had given the coat to was there. I asked her if I had given her my wallet by mistake, but she said I had not. She said she was sorry I had lost it and hoped I would find it, and then once again thanked me for the coat, which she was wearing. My wallet was nowhere to be found. I ended up going home and spent the afternoon canceling credit cards and ordering replacements, etc. and I have to say that my attitude did not improve much during the day – in fact, I spent the afternoon crying on and off.
My day came to a close and just as I was about to head to bed around 11 pm, my doorbell rang. I opened the door and there stood a young man – college age – holding my wallet. He said he had found it that morning on the street (just outside of my first stop of the day!) and couldn’t think of any way to get it to me other than drive to the address on my license – by the way, if you are not familiar with where I live, it can be difficult to find!
I pretty much stood there with my mouth open in astonishment! I finally had the presence of mind to offer him a gift card that was in my wallet as a thank you. Even though he wasn’t expecting a reward, he was excited at my gift and very appreciative. I told him “God bless you”, gave him a hug, and he left.
Instantly, I was ashamed of the things I had thought earlier in the day. Ashamed that I thought giving a coat to a homeless lady should somehow exempt me from little inconveniences like losing my wallet. Ashamed that I was not as grateful for all of the things I did have as the homeless lady was with her one old hand me down coat. Ashamed that I had not trusted God to handle my lost wallet when He had just demonstrated how clearly he cares for those in need.
As I have reflected on that day, I have to say that my perspective has changed quite a lot. I find myself worrying about those ladies and wondering if they are warm and safe in this freezing weather. I think about what the next thing is that I can do to reach out and help the homeless. I wish I had tons and tons of money and could just go give and give and give to everyone who needs it. I want to give without expectation of anything in return. I want to be thankful for what I have and not grouse about the little things that might irritate me and that are beyond my control. Mostly I’ve learned that “God’s got this!” He’s in control and I am not! I just have to be available and listen and be thankful every day! And I know every day the truth of Luke 6:38 Give, and it will be given to you…For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”
Praise Team Member
Co-teacher of the Ladies’ Sunday School Class