I was visiting Baltimore with my wife the other day. We were waiting at the bus stop for the shuttle to take us back to our hotel.
When he arrived at the bus stop no one approached him for his autograph. No one sought any pearls of wisdom. No one wanted his Twitter name or if he had a Facebook page. He didn't look to be a man of means. He wasn't a thought leader, author, or professor (at least not by appearance.) He was a simple man. Long beard, long hair, tall and lanky. Old pants and a worn leather jacket. He moved slowly and was considerate of those around him.
He had a kind look on his face. It was clear this was just another routine: go to the bus stop trash and seek out an unfinished lunch or a half eaten piece of fruit. He didn't seem resentful. He simply went about his business. Not saying a word, he found a small white bag, opened it and found a small treasure. Lunch is served.
Meanwhile I stood there waiting for the shuttle and stole glances in his direction. Earlier, I had eaten a crab cake sandwich and bowl of crab bisque for MY lunch. I ate it outside in the warm sun enjoying the company of my beautiful wife. We had sat at a quaint table surrounded by flowers and smiling wait staff.
But now, this was my homeless moment. Have you ever had one of these? Afterward on the shuttle, my mind raced (it still races today). I was brought up to help people. I learned that there will always be people better off and worse off than me. But I froze that day at the bus stop. I didn't offer any help. Why did I freeze? Why didn't I do something? The answer is quite simple. I wasn't prepared. I was engrossed in me and my wife (not a bad thing in itself, just incomplete).
I consider this moment a test of my character. We are all stewards of opportunity. How we seize a moment lies not in the moment itself but in the preparation ahead of the moment. This homeless moment revealed to me my inadequate time alone with God in preparation for times like these. One could argue I was sort of homeless myself - not truly at home in Christ. My commitment to everyday giving demands this kind of preparedness.
Would the homeless man have responded to my offer for lunch if I had been prepared? Doesn't matter. It would have been mine to obey. Period. The results are not for me to claim.
Looking ahead: Will I respond to the next homeless I see? You bet. Will I offer lunch? Maybe, maybe not. It may simply be a handshake. A smile. Or maybe I will embark on a conversation, give some cash, or point to a shelter I know about. It's God's role to work through me. It's my role to be prepared.
What about you? Are you prepared to give?
Scott Couchenour, guest blogger
Certified Life Coach
VP of Operations