Monday, December 10, 2012

Thankfulness - Nov 9 2008

I don't know that anyone besides me will ever read this, but I feel like I should put this out there.
I've been so thankful lately, thankful for all the little things: the wonderful fall weather; the stunning beauty of the trees changing color; Criminal Minds; a paycheck; God always provides for my needs; my cute dog who adores me; one of the cats lying up against me right now; the sparkling moon; Halloween; Thanksgiving is coming up...
There is more. This morning I sat down at the dining room table to eat my pumpkin pancakes left over from IHOP yesterday and drink a splendid cup of tea (I haven't had one that good in a while). I watched outside while eating my breakfast. There was a man who looked to be in his 60s, at least, walking along the side of a busy main road. I thought to myself concerned, "Why is he walking there?" It's not a place one takes a casual walk. A few minutes later, a police officer pulled up beside the man. I was so grateful for that police officer -- grateful that people still look out for one another.
During the sermon at church, one of the points was "Think on the things you love more than the things you hate." Pastor T.G. expanded the point with illustrations from his own life: He loves to watch the squirrels hop/run, then latch to a tree like a magnet; he loves spending time with his family, loves sharing Thursday lunch w/ his wife and daughter. But he hates traffic and he hates forgetting something, like leaving his briefcase sitting by the door when he meant to bring it.
It's nice to share w/ each other the things we're thankful for. Especially the little things. It's something I've been working really hard on lately. I'm a querulous person - I can always find something to complain about, but I've been trying to focus on the good things, you know, "Count your blessings instead of sheep," and then to hear that message today in a sermon about love really encouraged me.
It's pretty cold outside today. In the low 50s, the wind is blowing - perfect Nov. weather.
Driving home from church, I stopped at a red light about 10 minutes from my house. There was a guy standing on the corner with a sign reading "Need work for money." "Oh great," I thought as I pulled up beside him. those guys on the street corners (I don't know that I've personally ever seen a woman) always make me feel guilty and uncomfortable. Avoid eye contact at all possible costs. They just want money for drugs and booze. Most of them anyway.
A girl on a motorcyle right behind me said something to the man. He responded, though I couldn't hear what they were saying. Seeing the look on the girl's face in my rearview mirror, I could tell she was giving the guy a hard time, harrassing him. Then I looked at him. "Amazing Grace" was playing on the radio as I sat at the light. His focus being directed elsewhere, I looked at the man. Then I saw him. I saw the person - down on his luck or maybe down in life. All he needed was a little love. A little kindness. What I saw broke my heart.
The light turned green. I should have given him some cash, but then I remembered I had maybe a couple bucks on me. I was driving home to a delicious meal. I could fix up a plate for the man. I could get my cousin Josh to ride with me. He could wait in the car (so long a I wasn't alone b/c that's not smart when I'm a girl dealing w/ a male stranger, or any stranger these days). I could pop out of the car, hand the man the plate, not even have to say anything, hop back in my car and drive off.
That's what God wanted. God wanted me to love that man. To bring him a warm meal. But I told God, "You know I'm not going to do that." I told God "no." Then I wondered if I was just being foolish and sentimental. Hearing "Amazing Grace" on the radio - which was set to a station I didn't know existed, a station I happened upon on my way home from church -- and seriously considering bringing a man standing on a street corner a plate of warm food.
When I arrived home 10 minutes later, changed out of my dress pants I just bought yesterday into my new jeans I also bought yesterday, I knew I wasn't being sentimental - maybe foolish. But I was wearing brand new jeans I bought. I was standing in a warm house. I was about to eat good food. So many things to be thankful for. And I'd denied that man the same. Just this morning I was grateful once again for the kindness of strangers, grateful I had witnessed the cop stopping beside the old man to make sure he was o.k. Maybe it was the police officer's job to stop, but really, the cop could have kept on going right past that man. I was grateful for that moment. I was grateful I saw that, yet I chose to deny the man on the street corner the same.
I was glad during church to share gratitude w/ others and yet I denied the man the same.
It was probably coincidence that I saw that police officer stop and that a point in today's sermon on love stuck w/ me and that I heard "Amazing Grace" at the red light. But I don't believe in coincidence. Everything happens for a reason.
I tried praying for the street corner man, that God would send him warmth and kindness, but God said, "I sent you." And I told God "no." I chose not to be kindness and goodness to my neighbor; I chose to not be Christ to him.
So if you made it this far in reading, and if you find fault with God, don't blame Him who is Love, put the blame on me.

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