When you get to Heaven, what biblical character other than Jesus would you like to meet first? Whenever I ask that question, the answer is usually Peter, Paul, or Abraham—David or Moses less frequently. I nod, agreeing with their preference, and wait for them to ask what my choice would be. They always want to know.
“I want to talk to the old lady who gave two coins,” I say. “I want to know why she gave all she had when nothing required so great a sacrifice.”
The other day, I was leaving the Convention Center in downtown Fort Worth.
I was about to get into my car when I was approached by a man in loose-fitting old clothes. He carried a plastic grocery sack half filled with his belongings. Homeless people walk the streets in this area, so I wasn’t surprised when he explained his plight and asked if I could help.
I opened my wallet, thumbed past the smaller bills, and pulled out a twenty.
“Oh, my,” he said, obviously surprised. “Thank you.”
“God bless you,” I said before he walked away.
Since then, I have often thought about that man and find myself praying for him.
The next day, I was again leaving the conference at the Convention Center.
I was crossing the street when a different man asked for help.
I hardly glanced his way. “Sorry,” I said as I kept walking toward my car across the street. “I can’t.”
That statement was a euphemism for “I don’t want to.” I still had money in my wallet. I could have given him a few dollars. I could have given him the fifty that I had tucked in the front section. My prayer for him was really short.
How were the situations different?
In each case, I spent no time considering whether the person was needy or deserving. I didn’t question whether I should or shouldn’t. The decision was immediate. Why did I do so much in one case and nothing in the other?
I wonder if the old lady will have the same answer as I have for my experience: “I don’t know. It just seemed to be the right thing to do.”
What do you think the answer is?