Eight months ago, I was driving home from church and I met a man named Kevin. Kevin was homeless,on the side of the road and he needed help. Since the light was red I rolled down my window and started to talk to him. I asked him what his name was and how he was doing and he asked me if I had any spare change. I looked in my wallet hoping to see a few bucks but all I had with me was a $20.
I thought to myself "Man, that's a lot of money to just give away," and I heard an almost instant response, I think from God, that I easily had the means to immediately after go to the ATM and replace the $20 that I was going to give him. I gave the money to Kevin and when he realized that I had given him a $20 he started to uncontrollably sob and then the light turned green.
As I drove away my vision began to get blurry and my chest tight as I thought about my selfishness. There I was, driving a car that my host family let me use, free of charge. At the time I was living in their home rent free and eating dinner with them every evening. I was surviving in Colorado, at that point, solely because of the kindness of a family that was at one point strangers to me and I struggled to extend kindness to Kevin.
I think at times it's human nature to hold on to what we have with a closed fist. To be skeptical of the homeless, to wonder how they got there, what addiction they're struggling with and more. At times I feel like judgement comes quicker than solutions when we're looking at the people that we think somehow turned their American dream into a nightmare.
The day that I met Kevin, something inside of me changed. I drove away and I sat in a parking lot and I just cried and cried. I cried because I knew that $20 meant SO much more to Kevin than it would ever mean to me. I cried because if that were me, if that was one of my brothers, if that was my dad, my sister or my mom I would want someone to help them, to help me.
After I met Kevin a strong affection for the homeless began to grow in my heart. I would find myself turning around and pulling over to talk to someone on the street. Not because I necessarily had any money or even food to give them but rather because I wanted them to know that I saw them, that I love them, that they're important and that they have so much value.
I can honestly say that the people I give food or money too are just as grateful and happy as the people that I can only sit and talk with or hug and pray for.
Meeting Kevin reminded me of the love of Christ. Jesus didn't walk this earth with a closed fist wondering if he had enough to meet the needs of those around him, instead he extended himself and constantly went out of his way. Whether you're a believer or not, reading about the life of Jesus is a beautiful and eye opening experience. Christ is such an example of how eyes of sympathy are never enough but rather we must be filled with, moved by and continually motivated by compassion.
I heard someone say last week in a sermon that sympathy will stand by and say "that's so sad" where as compassion will not only think someones situation is sad but also come up with a plan to make it better.
I used to pray to God and ask why I was so moved and so hurt by the sight of the homeless it was through those prayer's that I began to learn more about Christ and it started to make sense. God is defined by his love for us, a love that not only loves but goes a billion steps further and saves. So those things that are in our hearts, the hurt, the pain, the weight of other people's lives, we don't feel them by accident it's no coincidence at all instead it's us being the hands and feet of Christ on earth.
God is not and will never be sympathy, he'll never stop there and neither will I. I want to forever be saturated in a Christ like compassion that compels me to act.
I wonder where Kevin is today. I drove by that street week in and week out after meeting him and I never saw him again. Wherever he is I hope that he knows that he's loved, that he's valued and that he's not invisible.
I think that I have yet to see the full extent of what my meeting Kevin will mean to my world. My heart hasn't been the same and my eyes see fresh. Where I once saw a bum on the corner I now see someone who's name I long to know and who's story I can't wait to hear.
I dare you to extend yourself, to step out of your comfort zone in a dramatic way for something that matters. I dare you to step into compassion and leave the tired and old useless story of sympathy in your past. Whether your cause is the homeless, the poor, global warming or whatever your heart is drawn towards....step out of your box and allow intentional and driven love to guide you to impact the lives of those around you that are in need.
If you find yourself working with a great program or if you have an awesome testimony from helping someone in need I would love to hear it! Feel free to comment below and share your story or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll share a few of the beautiful testimonies and stories that I receive.
Until next time gang! Xoxo