Walking into the neighborhood drug store tonight, I could see a gentleman sauntering toward me as I approached the front door.
I looked up from putting my keys in my pocket and made eye contact.
“Do you have some change?” he asked.
“No, I sure don’t,” I replied. I didn’t. My pockets were empty. But then I surprised myself.
“Do you need something?” I asked him, gesturing inside the store.
His eyes lit up. On the brink of yet another rejection, a glimmer of hope. He pondered for a moment, and then he said, “Milk, not chocolate…just regular, vitamin D milk.”
“You got it, I’ll be right back.”
Immediately, I wondered what else I could get for him. We’re talking about the neighborhood drug store, so there won’t be any hearty, dinnertime options. I picked up the medicine I had originally set out for, found some granola bars, the vitamin D milk and a Hershey bar.
I paid my bill and had his items packed into a separate bag. I walked outside and handed them to him, and I’m pretty sure the milk was gone before I had left the parking lot.
But then my heart sank as I drove off.
Why didn’t I recommend he seek out the local ministry I know at the church up the street?
Why didn’t I recommend the homeless ministry in town, one of the best in the nation?
Why, why, why not?
Driving away, I did the only thing left to do: I prayed for him. I prayed that with his now full stomach and a few snacks for the next day or so that God would direct his steps to somewhere he could get back on his feet.
I didn’t ask his name. I didn’t ask him anything about himself. All things I wish I had done.
I’ll remember next time.
How will you help the next person in need you encounter, more than just giving a hand out?