Hebrews 13:2 "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels."
Recently, I heard someone telling a tale of their experiences. It seemed they were attempting a joke or laugh at the expense of another human being. Honestly, I can't tell you a thing from the ramblings but the unnecessary remark about a homeless individual. The words were placed dead center of the story ... "a panhandler begging for money, food." It was a trivial comment for this person but it struck a nerve within my heart. How could anyone make light of another who is forced to beg for their next meal? The remark stayed with me for several days.
Shortly after hearing the story, I was listening to my radio. On came a song spinning the possibility that beggars might just be angels sent here to be sure we're doing our part here on earth. I can't tell you the artist singing this song but I can tell you the memories it pulled forward in my mind.
I grew up in a family heart set on blessing the needy and less fortunate. My parents were active within the local chapter of Salvation Army. They contributed time, effort and finances. I'm talking about the days when phone calls came late at night saying someone was "hard on their luck" needing a place to sleep or a warm meal in their belly. I remember many a time such as that in my childhood home. The phone would ring long after bedtime, my mother's soft "hello, Fleming's" and then my father would take over the call. A firm "I see, of course we can help" and then my father's good name that any credit used would be paid the following day. I would listen to their hushed voices as I curled deeper into my warm blankets. The darkness outside seemed to creep in my bedroom and threaten the safety I felt.You see, I knew the call meant someone was cold, hungry and hurting ... while I lay warm and well fed in the comfort of our house ... that frightened me. Then ... out of that darkness I would hear my father's voice, steady and true, lifted in prayer for the person needing help on a cold winter night. Peace followed, spreading a tender hand of calm through our home. I would fall back to sleep listening to my parents talk about the phone call. I could hear the tears in my mother's voice as she said "it was a good reminder that we are blessed."
Don't misunderstand me or think that I am totally naive. I know that there are those that beg in order to feed an alcohol or drug addiction. I am very aware that some lay sleeping on a park bench from a decision of their own mind. But, I ask you this ... are there not decisions you've made foolishly? Have you ever made a choice that somehow altered your future in a less than favorable way?
I believe we all suffer consequences of poor decisions. So, how is that you or I can sit back judging the beggar? Our poor choices might be easily hidden within the confines of our homes. Does that mean they are any less poor than those of the addict walking the street? No. The sins of addiction are evident for all to see. Other sins take quiet root and hide from the unsuspecting eyes of passersby.
I know that the person making light of the panhandler did not see their words were cold, callous. I know too that this person is full of God's love and works hard to bring His word into the lives of many people. I just think this person was caught in a moment where their words were less than chosen well. We've all been there, haven't we? In an odd way, I'm thankful that this person made reference to the panhandler. It brought back memories and reminded me that I need to be more compassionate each day.
Perhaps the panhandler interrupting my day is an angel making sure that I do my best with my time here on earth. Or, perhaps ... I'm the answer to that beggars prayer.
Proverbs 3:28 "Do not say to your neighbor, "Go and come back, and tomorrow I will give it" When you have it with you."