Thirteen Dollars

A few years back, I was on my lunch break from work when I passed a young man and woman standing at a very busy intersection with a sign asking for help.  The sign simply said, “Struggling family.  Please help.”  Something about this couple made it difficult to just pass them by…but I did anyway.
In order to have helped them,  I would’ve had to park my vehicle and walk across a median (in front of a lot of people driving by, might I add) to do so.  Plus, I was on a timed lunch break.  I was hungry and needed the break for it was a stressful day at work.  Besides, he was probably going to use it to buy drugs or alcohol.  Bringing the wife along (if she was really his wife) was just probably a ruse.  I imagined them counting their loot while laughing together at how well they suckered all those people.
At least, these were all the excuses I made so I wouldn’t have to stop.  However, I didn’t feel any of these were truly the case.  The young man didn’t look like a man trying to swindle people.  He looked discouraged…and desperate.  The young woman just looked embarrassed, like she didn’t want to be there.  I had a strong inclination to give them some money, but told myself all the above excuses…and drove on.
I parked and prepared to chill out and enjoy my lunch.  I couldn’t though because I kept seeing the man’s face.   And the inclination to help them out just kept getting stronger.  Then I heard that still small voice: “Go back and give them whatever you have in your wallet.”  I counted the cash I had on me, and it was only $13.  So I argued: “$13 is not much…how’s that really going to help them? What if he’s just trying to hoodoo people?  What if he’s just going to use it on drugs?”  I was answered with: “It’s not your concern what he does with the money.  Just go give him the money.”
So I put my sandwich down and drove back to the intersection.  I pulled into a hotel parking lot, walked across the grassy median, and gave him the $13.  He wouldn’t even look me in the eye.  He offered a mumbled, “thank you,” and I went back to my vehicle.  As I sat at that intersection to go back to work, he looked directly at me and mouthed “thank you” again.  I smiled and waved, drove back to work and cried my eyes out, while blubbering a prayer for him and his family.
What’s the point of this story?  Simply this: sometimes (maybe even all the time) God’s going to urge you to do something that’s out of your comfort zone.  It may not be convenient, and it may not make sense.  You may never know the outcome or how He used your obedient act of service in the life of that person.  But do it anyway.  You love Him by obeying His call to service, and you show love for your neighbor by serving them.  Then trust Him with the outcome.
Above all, love each other deeply, because lover covers over a multitude of sins.  Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.  Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:8-10



3 thoughts on “Thirteen Dollars

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  1. Alanna, thank you for sharing this story with us! This is something that is near and dear to my heart as many times God has placed it on my heart to help desperate people like this, others calling me naive for doing so. To be sure, not everyone who asks for money like that is asking legitimately, but the issue is listening to His voice and obedience to that, vs. what we think the person is going to actually DO with what we’ve given to them. You planted seeds of kindness in their hearts. God can cause another to water, and then He gives the increase.

  2. I agree, Denise! I think a lot of people struggle with that decision of helping someone in need but not get swindled. I actually gave money to a church group once and they were caught for swindling people. But this particular case was different. I could feel a “gentle pressure,” if you will, to give this man as much as I could. And the more I made excuses not to, the pressure got stronger. I feel that since we can never know for sure if someone is legit or not, we should err on the side of kindness and let God handle the person’s heart.

  3. Love this!! It really is about Him and not us (and our judgements). You were so good to listen and go back. Who knows how it may have changed their lives but God calls us to extraordinary work in the little details. ❤

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