Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Driving by Jesus

I was a little late getting out of work. It was 5:10 by the time I closed my office door, 5:16 by the time I was pulling out of the parking lot. Late start on the drive home usually means getting stuck in the worst of the traffic. It was 5:50 by the time I picked up my girls from school, and far later than I wanted it to be for cooking dinner. So I decided we would grab some dinner at a local market on the way home.

A quick in and out, and then we'd be on our way home and getting the girls in bed.

Hurry up, girls. It's getting late.

Bellies are full, but food was still left on the table.

Wrap it up. There's a mouth out there to feed. 

So I grab a paper bag and drop in 4 pieces of untouched cornbread, and wrap up a couple of pieces of turkey. Load the girls in the van, and we were on our way. The parking lot was crazy busy as we drove past the Starbucks, the beauty supply story, the Dollar store, and the grocery store. While slowing to allow shoppers to cross, I saw him out of the corner of my eye. A few shops ahead, leaning into a trash can, digging. A large, clear trash bag rested on the ground behind, full of crushed cans. The ends of his pants were tattered and sandals were worn. I saw him, and I saw the bag of bread on the seat next to me.

The food is for him. 

Watching the cars turn and pass and park and pull out, watching the shoppers cross the road back and forth, in the midst of little people laughing and shrieking behind me and the news blaring on the radio about war and violence, somehow in the midst of the chaos, I heard that whisper.

That bread will feed him, the least of these. 

And as the tires rolled on slowly in the midst of that busy parking lot, my mind waged war with my heart.

How do I...what do I...what if he's not homeless and I'm judging? what if this insults him? what do i say? where do I park? how do I pull out of the way? what about the children in the backseat? ugh! how do I make this work?!

And in the confusion of my pride and disobedience and desire to do right, my tires kept on rolling, and I drove right on by Jesus, with his dirty, torn up pants and matted beard, and hit my hand against the steering wheel with absolute frustration.


And my eyes well up with tears, and my heart breaks in shame for my disobedience, my cowardice in not stepping up, and the bag of bread on the seat next to me mocks me. Coward.

And I wonder how many times I have driven past Jesus and never even given it a thought. In my hurry, in my avoidance of inconveniences, in my exhaustion, in my ingratitude, in my disgruntled discontent, how many times have I missed him?

Please give me another chance. Please open my eyes. Please break my stubborn pride. Please, give me another chance.
Then the King will say to those on his right, "Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what's coming to you in this kingdom. It's been ready for you since the world's foundation. And here's why:
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me."
Then those 'sheep' are going to say, "Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?"
Then the King will say, "I'm tell the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me - you did it to me."
Overlooked or ignored. How many times in a day do I overlook or ignore someone? How many countless faces do I overlook in a day? How many blessings have I neglected to give because I chose to ignore? How many opportunities to love did I overlook today?

Oh Father, open the eyes of my heart, enlighten me to see as You see, that I will not drive by you ever again.

Forgive me.

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