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Wednesday, September 12, 2012


You know the routine. Drive up to the stop light and try to avoid the eyes of the homeless man on the corner with the cardboard sign that says, "God bless you."


The guilt sets in. Sometimes the indignity. The self-righteousness. The annoyance.

Sometimes the pity. Sometimes the compassion. Sometimes the generosity.

And sometimes the window rolls down and pocket change drops from your hand into that of the man with the cardboard sign.

You wonder if the change will end up as food or…

But you shrug your shoulders because—in the end—it doesn’t matter from an eternal perspective what the money is used for.

Certainly the money means something to the receiver. But my giving to the man with the cardboard sign isn’t about him as much as it is about me. From my perspective as a giver—and from God’s perspective on eternity—my gift reflects my heart for others. It’s about God moving me toward not just being a giver. But a cheerful giver.

It’s about God moving me from a giver of pocket change to a giver of paper money or time or prayer or love or a cup of water to one who is thirsty—in Jesus’ name. And with Jesus’ frame of mind, Jesus’ heart for others and Jesus’ leading.

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2)

That man with the cardboard sign? Could be an angel. Read his sign again. He’s sending you God’s blessing, after all.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for your provision and the way you are changing our heart. Please help us see people in need from your eyes and with your heart. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? How do you respond to folks in need of change?

This post is part of the Christian Writers blog chain. Our theme for September is "change." Please follow the links to the right to see what my friends have to say this month.


Anonymous said...

I think I'm too often made uncomfortable and left feeling awkward when encountering folks in need of change. I read a great book called Under the Overpass about ministry to the homeless specifically. Based on ideas there, I try to give care packages (soap, water, nonperishable food items, washcloth, etc.) or gift cards to food places like Subway or Wendys. You're right, though, that the giving means something to people---that they mattered and weren't overlooked or ignored. That's a physical act of loving another that means so much more.

chris said...

I did a stint as a "homeless" person, for 3 months once. It wasn't quite as dramatic as most of these people, I stayed with friends, but it gave me a certain bit of perspective. Here in Jacksonville we have quite a few of them at the beach. I often will pray with them there and try to offer them encouragement. Sometimes our time is the one thing we could share with them more... many of them don't like to ask for money but I give to them anyway. Not always, but when I can. Great post Carol, very meaningful!!

Terrie Thorpe said...

Beautiful Carol. Very appropriate for all seasons. Seems that the harder times get, the more God moves through His people. We are, after all, His hands and His feet to a lost world. How blessed we are to touch another with God's love and Pocket Change can change the world! Peace and Blessings

Stephanie Boles said...

Your post made me ponder just how I have responded to the needy in the past and how I might change my response in future. Thank you. Blessings

Bill Jones said...

Very good Carol - I agree it's our giving God expects (and we can control), but we can't control others with what they do with it.

Tracy Krauss said...

Thought provoking... and a great play on words

Christine Henderson said...

I saw a homeless man at the corner today and I didn't know how to react. I usually keep protein bars in my car to give out. When I looked out to where he kept his possessions the food he had was just strewn about. It seemed like what you'd see if you took things out of your pocket and scattered them looking for something in particular. So I didn't roll down my window this time. It confused me.

Jack Brown said...

great post
I'm always reminded of Peter and John at the beautiful gate.
"Silver and Gold I don't have but that which I have I give you....."
I long to do that....maybe God will grant my longing but even if He doesn't He is still God.
Biiiiiig hug

From Carols Quill said...

@ Heather - I loved "Under the Overpass," too. I used to keep McDonalds coupons in my purse but when they went to gift cards, it felt cumbersome. I completely love the idea of creating little gift packages to hand out. I think I'll ask hubby to start bringing home the hotel goodies. Thanks!

From Carols Quill said...

@ Chris - I love that you pray with people on the beach. I think I'd do that if I weren't a woman--and I wish I didn't feel that way (insecure and defenseless).

@ Terrie - I do hope it's true that the harder the times, the more God works through His people. I will absolutely keep your words in my heart and try harder.

@ Stephanie and Bill - thank you for your thoughts. I agree that we need to think about how to respond.

@ Tracy - yep; I'm pretty much all about word play--why I love children's writing best. They appreciate it. (smile)

From Carols Quill said...

@ Christine - I'm sorry you had that experience. You're right that sometimes we get confused about how to react. All we can do is our best at the time -- and then pray.

@ Jack - oh, the perfect scripture. We should just do our best and give whatever we have even if it's not gold or silver (or copper or nickel).

Pam B. said...

I was not inclined to help the people who were standing every day at off- ramp corners begging. It tended to be the same people every time and I did not want to encourage them to take that up as their life's work. I think our area has put in laws now to stop the practice and I am glad. I think there are other ways that I can help those in need that are better for all concerned.

From Carols Quill said...

@ Pam - good thoughts. Pan handling shouldn't be a career to encourage people to.

lynnmosher said...

Great post, Carol! I don't know if you ever read my post about $25. I learned the hard way. When God says give, I give! No matter what it is!

Deborah K. Anderson said...

Great post, Carol. Like you, I give the money, unless I discern something's not right. But then I still offer to get them something to eat. I just can't look the other way.

TraciB said...

Excellent and convicting post, Carol. Sometimes I give in such instances, but sometimes I don't, for a number of reasons.

My pastor has several stories about homeless people and giving. One guy wouldn't let my pastor give him anything other than a meal, even though he was offering to buy the guy a tent, a sleeping bag, whatever he needed. The guy said he had everything he needed, but thanks anyway. Another guy was rude, taking everything out of the care package my pastor gave him and throwing it out onto the beach.

The last time I gave something, it was a meal I bought for a guy and his dog. God had just blessed me with a job after several months of being unemployed, and I felt led to share the blessing. Had an interesting conversation with the guy too. He might end up in one of my novels...

From Carols Quill said...

@ Lynn - No I don't think I've read your $25 post. I'll look for it on your site. Thanks.

@ Deborah - Good for you, Deborah. I need to try harder every time.

From Carols Quill said...

@ Traci - very interesting comments from your pastor as well as your own experience. I hope the man and his dog do end up in a novel!