it's cold. well cold for london. below zero for almost a week now, and no signs of warmth until the weekend. on my lunch break today i took the opportunity to go for a walk and grab some lunch.
it's cold. so i was wearing a ski jacket, a hat, a cowl, and warm gloves. i also had snow boots on my feet. there's nothing particularly special about this, except that i was going to come face to face with one who had none of this.
i went to my favourite sushi restaurant (even typing that sounds pretentious) and after purchasing my meal and diet coke i sat down and started on my current bible study - james by beth moore. it is one of those that hits you upside the head. james' central message is that faith without works, is dead. that is, if we truly have faith, if we are in obedience to god, we will be showing this in how we live out our lives. we will care for the poor and the widow and the orphan. we will seek justice for those who need it. we will be the hands and feet of christ.
to say the least. it is getting to me. i live a very comfortable life. and while we tithe and give and serve, i know that i rarely step outside my comfort zone and engage with those who aren't like me. when i do, it's almost always in 'safe ways,' through church, or volunteering with a charity. if i'm honest, the homeless make me feel uncomfortable. i'm ashamed to admit that often times i look away, just not wanting to make eye contact, not wanting to acknowledge that there is a gulf, an ocean, between us in terms of money and social status. ugh. i loathe even writing that. but it's true. that is the state of my sinful heart.
so back to lunch, i was walking to the post office, i needed to get there in the hour i had. i didn't make it. at the corner i had made a decision between two post offices, equidistant from my office. for no particular reason, i chose one, probably because i am most familiar with it, but really, a post office, is a post office, right? as i was purposefully striding down the street, warm in all my winter gear, i was suddenly confronted with a guy sitting on the very cold pavement. he couldn't have been much older than myself, and i think he was probably younger. and we met eyes and i smiled, he extended an old coffee cup for change, and i said that i was sorry. and as i passed i got a check in my spirit. i could do something about this. but i didn't have any change. i tried to argue with god about it, i had no cash, we're on a tight budget at the moment (although, clearly i had money for lunch!), i'm now fifty yards away. 'turn around and offer to get him a sandwich.' and so i made a u-turn. and if i could describe the feeling inside my chest, i would. but i can't, except to say, i thought my heart would burst, i could sense above all, that today, i was supposed to walk down this street, at this particular time and encounter this man.
'excuse me, sir, i don't have any cash on me, but could i buy you a sandwich?'
'oh love, that's so kind, what i'd really like is a coffee,' he said in a garbled scottish brogue (difficult to understand at the best of times), 'a lat-a'
'with LOTS of sugar, a lat-a, with lots of sugar'
'oh a latte?'
'yes with lots of sugar, bless you.'
there is a starbucks about 60 yards down the street, this street is filled with people just like me, busy, well-dressed, business people and university students, i'm almost sure that most of us would have enjoyed to eat and drink during our lunch break today. 10 minutes and £2.50 later, with a fistful of sugar packets i returned. we chatted for a minute, i asked him if he had a warm place to sleep and from what i could understand (again, the scottish accent is difficult to decipher at times) he said he'd met someone earlier who was referring him to st mungos. i wished him good day, that i hoped he could keep warm. i walked down the street, dressed in my warm coat, into my warm office with tears stinging my eyes.
i don't tell you this to ask for praise. the feeling in my soul today, knowing that i was serving one of god's precious children was more than enough. i tell you this because it's cold here in london, and it's cold in much of states and canada. it's too cold to sleep outside at the moment. if you see a homeless person who you think might be sleeping rough, please contact your local homeless agency, in london you can contact st mungo's.
i asked god to open my eyes to need this week, to show me where i could make a difference, how i could put my faith into action, today i got a task i'm particularly good at, i bought a cup of coffee. with LOTS of sugar.