I’d seen him here before. Multiple times actually. Something differentiated him from the other homeless people I see from time to time. Not once when I’d spotted him, seeing the “I’m homeless” sign held up to his chest, did I get that stirring in my spirit to help like I typically do when I see someone in his situation.
Like other days when I’d crossed his path I silently prayed, “Lord, if there’s something you’d have me do for him, let me know. I’m happy to help today, but I’m not really feeling it.”
Wouldn’t you know it? The Lord prompted me to ask the man if there was anything he needed, so I did. And he did have a need. Not money. Not a bottle of something. Not a meal. He wanted some Vaseline for the sores on the arms. The honesty of his request kind of stopped me dead in my tracks.
I’m not judging you if you would have gone about this differently. (I’ve driven past this guy many times without stopping to help, so I get it.) But here’s the thing that stood out to me today—this man who was wheelchair-bound, toothless and homeless had a simple need that was totally within my ability to meet. I was so taken aback by his simple request that out of my mouth popped the words, “No problem! I can do that. Anything else you need today?” And a big smile spread across his face when he sheepishly told me, “Well, I really like candy bars!”
I took a risk today when I asked the Lord how He’d like me to help that man, then took another when I obeyed His quiet prompting, and even a third risk when I asked the guy if I could get him anything else. The Lord was in the details. Anton, as he said was his name when I reached out my hand to introduce myself, could have asked me for anything, but all he really wanted was the Vaseline for his sores and maybe a few candy bars to satisfy his sweet (albeit absent) tooth.
So often we look at the big problem (homelessness in this case), missing the sore that could be soothed with a $1.99 tub of Vaseline. Anton is still homeless, there are still millions of people living on the streets and the unresolved question about how to help them remains. My gift of petroleum jelly and a few candy bars did absolutely nothing to solve those big problems.
But here’s my point—God didn’t ask me to solve the big problem of homelessness. He asked me to listen to His voice and to act in obedience.
Many times I think we are afraid that if we ask God what He wants from us, He’s going to make us do something big and uncomfortable….become a missionary and move to Africa or give all our money to the poor. And that’s possible, He totally could ask us to do something big. But from my experience, He prompts us to do something that between our mutual means (mine and God’s) is completely doable. It might be a stretch for me, but with God’s provision and partnership, it’s something I can do.
When you see or hear something that causes you to think God might want you to get involved, don’t be scared or look for a way out. Instead, seek out those places where He’s nudging you and look to Him for help.
And another thing—sometimes He asks us for things that are small and easy. Don’t brush that off believing that you can only serve Him in big ways.
Today God didn’t tell me to solve the big problem of homelessness; He asked me to help one man with one need.
I’m pretty sure that tonight when Anton gets to wherever he’s going to spend the night and he takes off his jacket to spread the Vaseline on his sores, he’s going to be glad that I didn’t consider his request too small to be significant. Because to him, my little act of kindness made a difference.
The Lord asked for my obedience and $1.99 + tax, what is He asking you to do?
Bright Hope recommends: If you are ready to take a step to regularly help the extreme poor, join Bright Hope’s Impact program by giving $15/month to help support the very programs that are helping to pull people out of poverty.