The other day I went to take the train. There were many people waiting at the station. I looked around and spotted a tall man who was struggling to sit down in a corner. He was thin and his clothing soiled deeply. His gray hair and beard stood up on end, and a large bump glistened on the left side of his forehead. My first instinct urged me to pass by, but then I felt compelled to go to the man.
From his body came an odor that choked me. I noticed again that he was very thin so I asked him if he had eaten today. He said no. I bought him some juice and a hot dog. Then I kneeled by his side and listened to him. He said his name was Oscar.
After living in the city for a few years you gain discernment about when someone is trying to deceive you. Oscar began to tell me about how he never had a mother or father. Then he began to cry. You could tell he didn’t want to cry, but he certainly needed to.
A thought arose in me. Why don’t I take this man to my home and give him a bath and a meal? Why don’t I show him some loving care?
Then the enemy chimed in. No, you have more important things to do. The guy might never leave. He might slip and fall in the tub and get hurt. What if he keeps coming back to your home? You have no right to impose your acts of charity upon your family.
As all this raced through my head as I listened to Oscar. He mumbled a lot, and I only understood about half of what he said. Scattered thoughts. Repetitive words. Mental illness and suffering.
Then the train pulled into the station. I placed my hand upon Oscar’s shoulder and said goodbye. I left him my Bible. Then I boarded the train and headed to… a prayer meeting.
I am not the Good Samaritan. Although I wish I could be.
Some might think, hey, at least you gave the guy some food and listened to him. You even gave him your Bible.
Others, not many, might be thinking, yes, you should have brought the man to your home and cared for him.
None of these are enough. I stand convicted of my selfishness. I know Jesus forgives me, but He also asks a lot from me. And He has the right to ask a lot from me. He who has been forgiven of much must love much.
What I should have done was give the man a bath, a meal and a bed to take a long needed rest. It must have been a long time since Oscar last slept in a bed.
Even all of that would be less than a speck in the ocean that Christ gave… just for me. How petty are my worries. How jealously I guard my personal comfort. How little I understand of God’s goodness.
I am weak and limited by my fears. May the Spirit transform me and let me trust in His love.
Bible reference: Luke 7:46-48
Image credit: Sebastián Bottaro, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Est_sanisidro.jpg