It's been well over two years but I still remember Kathy A like it was yesterday. I was in Providence, Rhode Island. I'd gotten to my hotel in the evening and walked a couple of blocks away for dinner. I was there to give a presentation the next day. It was actually a Friday evening so there were a lot of people on the street in Providence. It was not a bitterly cold evening but it was very cool and damp. The temperature was probably in the upper 40s or low 50s. Not a very pleasant evening.
As I walked back to the hotel after my dinner in a nice warm Pizzeria Uno, I heard Kathy before I saw her. I was walking down a pretty steep hill and there were quite a few people walking around me when I heard this high pitched sort of moaning -- almost a wailing. It pained me just to hear it. And then I saw Kathy. She was at the bottom of the hill, on the street corner, begging for money. As I got close, I could see tears in her eyes. People by the tens were walking by ignoring her. Normally, when you'd see someone like this, you might assume it was "their corner" and they were a regular there. I really don't know about Kathy. She seemed in no physical condition or state of mind to have even gotten herself there, let alone to find her way home, wherever "home" was going to be that cold evening.
It pains me to recall exactly what I did but I reached into my pocket, grabbed the change I had, and casually, without really making eye contact, dropped it into her cup. I really couldn't understand her but she seemed to thank me.
I kept on walking and turned another corner to head back up a hill toward my warm, comfortable hotel. My heart wouldn't let me make it up the hill, though. Not in a physical way but instead I just knew that I had to turn around and go back to her.
She was, of course, still on the corner, still moaning. People were still walking by as if she wasn't there. I kneeled next to her wheelchair and took her hand. It was inside an old, worn knit glove with the fingers cut out. I told her my name and asked her what I could do for her. It was very hard to understand her but I could tell she was asking me to pray for her. Instead of praying right then and there on the street, I told her I would pray for her, I asked for her name, gave her some additional money and went to my hotel. She said "God bless you" as I walked away.
It's easy now to say that, if I could repeat that situation, I would do more. I would pray with her then and there. I'd make sure she had a place to stay that night. I'd make sure that she got there safely. I'd make sure she had money for food.
Yes, it's easy to say that now ... but would I really follow through?
This past January, God presented me with a similar situation. It was a bitterly cold winter's morning. Temperatures were in the teens if even that. I was getting on the highway in my warm comfortable car. I had about a 60 mile drive ahead of me ... and I saw a hitchhiker. He looked cold and down on his luck. Instead of stopping, and offering him comfort and the ability to get 60 miles closer to his destination, I drove on. I knew it was wrong. I knew exactly what God wanted me to do and I resisted.
I keep praying that I will hear His voice ... but will I follow it?