I had plans to go back to the University to attend Chapel after dropping off the food for tomorrow evening's spaghetti dinner at local mission for the homeless but God had very different plans. On the way back, I was stopped at the traffic light in an unsavory part of town when I noticed a young man at the lights waiting to cross. He did not look steady on his feet and was holding onto the the post of a street sign for support. In that moment, I had two responses. The first was one that lamented the fact that someone would be drunk or high before noon and the second was a strong urge that I should pull over and see if he is OK. I was also torn between my desire to get back to University to enjoy the last worship chapel for the semester or to stop for someone I did not know and to encounter a potentially difficult situation that might take up my precious time. In the end, when the light changed and I crossed the intersection, I reluctantly pulled into the driveway of the mission's Women's Residence/Safe House which was about a block away on the other side of the intersection, got out the car and walked back to the intersection. To be honest, I was hoping that the young man would be gone and out of sight by the time I got back to the intersection. Instead, the young man had crouched down and was stooping hunched over at the very spot that I saw him. I crossed the road and when I got to him, I asked if he was OK. As it turns out, the young man was sick and was trying to get to Emergency at the hospital which was about 6 blocks away. I told him to wait and went back, got my car and took him to the hospital. After making sure that he was in good hands, I drove home. On the way back, I realized just how easy it is for us to judge and to make excuses not be the hands and feet of Christ. Because of the part of town that I was in, I had prejudged the young man as a drunk and/or addict when in fact he turned out to be a third-year university student suffering from severe stomach flu and cramps. Because I was hurrying to get back to a worship service, I had forgotten that my true act of worship is to be a Christ follower, by having His heart and being His hands and feet. It was a bitter and hard lesson to learn and I thank God for His urging and for His reminder that I have still a long way to go.
I love this blog but it is also a very sober reminder to me. I know what Jesus would have done. Would I have done the same? Yes, there is such a thing as prudence but at the same time, we must remember that we are children and servants of the Living God. Are we willing to follow His bidding, no matter what?
Since I posted this blog, I have had much time to reflect and I must admit that my reflection, meditation, and prayers have led me down some rather difficult paths. As it happened, the young man was not a drunk or an addict, but so what if he was? Would it have made it even more necessary that I stopped? For the last 20 plus years, I have worked with the disenfranchised, the drunks, the addicted, pushers and dealers, ex-convicts and convicts, and street walkers, so why the reluctance and 'fear'? Was it really fear? After working for over 10 years in the neighbourhood, I am known and somewhat 'protected'. I have even walked those streets at night in my ministry and this was broad daylight. I of all people have the least of excuses. Then I realized that when I ministered in the area before, it was always on my terms, in the "shelter" (forgive the pun) of the Mission and in the company of other believers. In the end, I have to conclude that my initial hesitance had less to do with fear of harm than it does with the knowledge that it might prove to be inconvenient, even difficult. I had to conclude that it was selfishness and a lack of Christ-like love and a lack of courage to obey. This has been a difficult lesson to learn about myself. A difficult and necessary one.