In the course of life we often encounter opportunities to serve others and blow past them due to our busy schedules, blindness to the situation, or just plain old selfishness. Yesterday was one of those days for me.
I had been riding on a passenger train for about 4 hours. While I was on the train I was enjoying the beautiful landscapes of the Pacific Northwest. The Olympic Mountain range with its snow capped peaks and the calm water of the Puget Sound set the stage for a great trip. The train was packed full of passengers. My seat assignment was next to, let’s just say, a rather large man. Across the table from us was his wife and small child. I was planning on doing some computer work while on the train and due to my cramped quarters I was unable to move, let alone whip out my laptop and write.
Being a railroad employee helps tremendously in these types of circumstances. I walked up to the train conductor and told her my plight. She was more than accommodating and gave me a seat with my own table in a car that was virtually empty… Kudos to the conductor for that one.
I spent my almost 4 hour trip reading God’s Word and working on building a website I have been developing for some time. I prayed, ate a snack or two, and caught up on some loose ends. It was a great trip home.
As I approached the busy train station I called ahead to have my ride ready and waiting for me as I disembarked. Sure as clockwork, the ride was there. Oblivious to the hustle and bustle of the other passengers as they greeted loved ones with hugs and kisses, I was in full speed heading to my ride. I had somewhere to go and if you stopped in front of me you would probably get ran over.
Just as I approached the curb I was greeted by a disheveled city resident. He had probably not been showered in quite some time and was missing several teeth. He held out his hand toward me and explained that he was a veteran. In his hand was a tattered veterans card with his picture on it. He asked me for a dollar. Now here is the confession…
I would love to say that I was Jesus at that moment. That I looked him in the eyes and felt his aching heart. That I understood his struggles as he lived as a beggar on the streets. And then offered to pray for him and give him the dollar he was asking for. But that didn’t happen.
I did look him in the eye however. Not to understand his heart, but to express my inability to offer any hope. I answered his request with a quick, “Sorry man, can’t help you” and ran off to my ride. As I sat in the van in my 10 minute ride to my final destination I began to think about what just happened. Did I just miss an opportunity to entertain an angel? Did I do what Jesus would have done? What a selfish person I discovered I was.
As I discussed this situation later that night with my wife an image came to my mind. I visualized this disheveled homeless guy walking up to Jesus and asking for a dollar. And as Jesus was about to show him His love and compassion, I jumped in front of Jesus and basically said, “Sorry, can’t help you. You will need to get it from someone else”
Oh how we can be so lost in our own selfishness. Would it have changed a thing if I had spent even one minute with this guy? It wouldn’t have changed my getting home in time for dinner, but it may have changed his life for eternity.
Lord, forgive me for times like this when I am so caught up in my own thoughts and desires that I forget about those you place in my life that I can help. I am your hands extended and I pray Lord that you will give me another chance to show your love and grace to a stranger.
Blessings to you as you draw closer to him today.
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(repost from 2011)