A few weeks ago, my son and I went to an FC Barcelona soccer event in New York City.
For convenience, we opted to travel via Grand Central Station in NYC.
On our way home, about fifteen minutes before our train was scheduled to leave, I needed to use the restroom. One was fairly close to where we were waiting, but as I approached the area, I saw that the line was too long. There was no way I would be in and out of that space in time to catch the train.
As I looked over at my son with a really disappointed and forlorn look, communicating that I didn't think my need to use the restroom was that urgent after all, I caught sight of an older man who was patiently trying to get my attention. He was eating a meal at the table just across from my son.
"There is another one at the top of the escalator", he said, vigorously tilting his head to direct me. "Hardly anyone uses it. You will be in and out before you know it."
I thanked him profusely and dashed to the top of the escalator to find it exactly as he described. Within a few minutes, I was back to thank him again.
Smiling really widely, he proceeded to introduce himself to me in more detail, telling me he was a veteran.
I started to notice for the first time that he looked a bit disheveled and dirty, when I heard him say,
"I am homeless and I hang out around here so that I can get food from the garbage bins."
My heart sank for a moment. Here he was, with practically nothing, armed with a smile and warm conversation - cheerfully engaging me. He was willing to help me at the tip of a hat, yet, he is eating other people's leftovers?
I have always had a roof over my head and food to eat. However, some days I struggle to be civil to my own family, what's my excuse?
I started to dig into my pockets and purse to see if I could find some money to help with food or anything, but all I had was seven dollars in cash. I gave it to him.
By now, I became aware that the time was ticking and if I didn't say goodbye, we were about to miss our train. We were also hungry but wanted to eat in a less expensive venue and didn't want to exceed our budget for the morning's events. We needed to leave.
We wished the old man all the best then hurried to catch the train.
I, however, was unexpectedly pensive the entire trip back. I kept wondering how $7.00 could realistically allay the stressors of anyone who doesn't have food or a place to live.
Should I have gone to an ATM machine and given him some more money, taking the risk of missing my train; losing the value of our pre-purchased tickets?
Should I have broken the budget and bought a meal right there and take the time to hang out with him? Maybe, find out more about what kind of help he might really need?
It was then that the Holy Spirit brought to my memory, the story of "The Good Samaritan" (See Luke 10:25-37). Honing in on the point that the story has become very cliche to many of us Christians. Its power totally lost on us as we get caught up in our busy and self-centered lives. For a moment, it dawned on me that the Spirit of the Lord has been wooing me towards awareness in this area of my life for some months now.
Lately, I have been encountering many people with a variety of needs that seem bigger than my perceived ability to help them. But it isn't that I am not able to help them. The challenge for me is that when I calculate what it's going to cost me to help, I decide that it is way beyond what I want to give up.
In retrospect, I am being forced to accept that there are some seasons of my life where
I get into a comfortable space and I only want to give when it feels easy.
Because I have given enough already.
I am too tired...
I am too busy...
Yet, God keeps drawing me to the notion that real loving involves being willing to help others even when it costs me more than I intend to expend. Real loving requires me to pause, even when I am busy - to see people and their needs; to listen to God's voice as he directs me how to help.
Sometimes, when I am required to help, it's going to be hard. I know this.
Too often, I find myself thinking twice about sacrificial giving. Losing valuable moments of learning how to love like Jesus did, and ultimately missing God's call to live a life of sacrifice in simple, everyday ways.
Do you sense that God is also motivating you to give more than you normally would?
Have you been listening and how have you answered His call?
Join the conversation below.
Share some of the ways how you notice God encouraging you to give more?
Until next time,
If your prefer to chat via email you can reach me here.
Author & Spiritual Life Coach.