Grocery Store Parking Lots
Last weekend I went to visit some friends who live out of town. I go to see them periodically. Slowly I am getting a bit more familiar with the surroundings and the folks who hang out in their neighborhood. On Sunday I went to the grocery store to pick up a few things that we needed. Outside of the store a woman in her thirties approached me and asked me for money to fix the tires on her truck.

As I listened to her, I remembered her from my trip in January, as she had asked me for gas money for her truck to get back home, which was thirty miles away. In January I gave her a ten-dollar bill and wished her a safe trip. I was worried for her, as she had a tracheotomy (the surgical formation of an opening into the trachea through the neck esp. to allow the passage of air) and although she seemed to be able to speak okay, it was winter and thirty miles seemed a bad combination.

After we said good-by that night in January, I wondered what had happened that she needed this surgical procedure and how long she had dealt with it. I was glad that I had money in my pocket…I think I may have even felt good about my decision not to be so selfish. I also felt gratitude for my own good health.

However, when she approached me again last Sunday I felt angry and judgmental. I had believed her in January and last Sunday I just felt like she was lying to me. In my self righteousness, I told her that I had encountered her in another parking lot with a truck story a few months before, and that I didn’t believe her, nor was I going to give her money.

I don’t know…if she had just come up and asked me for money, I am not sure what I would have said. I saw her again a few days later hanging out at the same store…approaching shoppers for money. I asked myself, “What would Jesus do?” Would he give her money out right…regardless of past encounters? Would he question her deeper needs and still give her money? Would his presence have been so full of love that just approaching him would have changed her?

I have to say that I didn’t get to most of those thoughts or options. For me I struggled with one primary question: would giving her money encourage her to continue in this practice?

So here I am, holding a new story of invitation…an invitation to hold with holy reverence that the gospel may be simple, but in my humanness with my need to be in control of truth…living it out is not always so easy.