I pulled up to the line already in place at the stoplight, and immediately saw the older gentleman begging by the side of the road.
“Homeless, Need Help” read his plain sign, no explanation or details given to the reason for his presence outside the local shopping center.
I looked away, realizing that I didn’t have any food or water in the car that I could give him, reminded of my decade-old decision to not give money to strangers. Tangible goods, yes, but money? Money always seems problematic and often more trouble waiting to happen. I never want to enable a habit.
Then the license plate of the car in front of me came into focus. “Jesus Saves” (roughly) it read, reminding me of the driver’s understanding that Jesus of Nazareth was Savior, Lord, God, and King of the universe. Amen, right?
That driver was focused on their turn sure to be coming soon at the light, staring straight ahead, and now, so was I.
And then the words of I John 3:17 flashed roughly through my mind, like a gut punch. The words in my mind weren’t as poetic as the words of that epistle, but the meaning was the same: “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?”
The narrow expectation of what I normally do were confronted by a verse brought to mind, in stark contrast to a license plate that I firmly believe to be true. Could I believe the license plate and not help this man? I actually had cash (a rarity)…
I got out of the car (yes, I put it in park) and dashed over to hand the man a few dollars. He seemed grateful, but in the moment we made contact, I was convicted of all the times I ignored the nudge. I think I needed to give up those bills more than that man needed them. Who really was the beggar?
I need my faith to be more than a slogan, or given how poorly I drive, a license plate.