I feel as if the Missional Minded Monday posts should make a comeback. One of the most difficult parts of living on-mission in everyday life is that everyday life gets in the way. Serving others takes thought and effort. Quite frankly, sometimes I barely have the energy to get through the day and finish all my standard tasks, much less seek out things to do for others.
A week or so ago, a friend sent a link about panhandlers in our nearby big City. It wasn't groundbreaking journalist, but rather a reminder of what we all know. Not all people asking for money are homeless. The money doesn't always go for food. They aren't always approaching with bad intentions.
The agreed upon best course of action (in the conversation that followed between my friend and I) was to keep a bag in our cars. Crackers, bottled water, and a rain poncho would make good items to have on hand to give out if approached. Also, these are things that would easily save if we weren't making frequent trips into the City.
If I'm honest, I didn't think about it again after the conversation. Since Jay and I moved, I'm further from the City and I don't make trips as often as I use to. I never made up the bag as discussed. Even if I had, it wouldn't have served me this weekend. HOWEVER that doesn't give me a free pass for my actions.
Dinner club with friends - the holiday edition - involved dinner in the Old City, followed by a Christmas play in a storefront downtown theater. Jay didn't go with me, and since the move its no longer practical to meet and carpool. This meant I walked from the parking lot (across the street and down just a hair) to the restaurant alone. In the dark.
So when I was approached by a woman asking for money, I freaked and did something I detest. I lied. Dressed in sparkly pants, a fancy jacket, carrying a designer bag, I told the lady I didn't have any cash on me. Truth be told, I have $13 cash in my Coach wallet.
I have no doubt I took the safe course of action. Stopping on a dark street alone isn't a smart idea. However, as a Christian "safe" shouldn't be my goal. Should it?
I encountered a woman who told me she had not eaten in 2 days. I turned a cold shoulder. And did nothing. Where was God's love?
How do you handle situations like this? What could I do differently? Should I always assume right motives and trust God to protect me? Do you have a game plan for addressing the need?