It was cold and windy and rainy in Knoxville all day yesterday. Cindy and I left home around 2:00 to do some shopping that we couldn't put off any longer.
I drove through the nasty elements to our first stop; and when I reached the interstate, about five minutes from our home, I saw a man standing on the opposite ramp. I could only see him from behind, as he faced the traffic that was exiting the superhighway. He was slightly bent in his posture, as if he had been beaten down by life. He was holding a sign for the oncoming traffic to see. He was a pitiful, pathetic sight. He was cold, soaked and alone.
We were able to see him standing there for only a few seconds as we passed by. I wondered what was written on the sign. Was he begging for a handout? Was he willing to work for money or food? We will never know, because we had passed by him so quickly.
But, that terrible vision remained in our hearts all day. When we returned home, we sat down and discussed our feelings about that solitary man in the wintry weather.
We have seen these poor people many, many times before. Most are homeless. All are in severe need of the basics of life. Many are conflicted. Many are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Many are unable to stay on the right side of the law.
Nonetheless, they are human beings upon whom life has dealt terrible cards. If I am truly honest with myself, I can say that, although I have been supremely blessed by God, I am, in reality, just one or two bad breaks away from being that man. We all are, if we would be truthful with ourselves.
Jesus said that to help the downtrodden is to help HIM as well (Matthew 25:31---46).
Sitting in the warm comfort of our home last night discussing the fact that we call ourselves "Christians" while not doing what Jesus asked us to do for the less fortunate, I felt ashamed of myself for not trying to help that man.
Of course, we do know the risks of doing that.....perhaps the man had a weapon and was dangerous. Perhaps he was mentally ill and would be difficult to relate to. If we gave him some money, perhaps he would use it to buy drugs...and so on.............
And, we know that we cannot help EVERYBODY who needs it. What is the answer?