My stylus hovered over the “cash back” option. Did I need it? I couldn’t remember and was too lazy to fish through my purse to see. I almost hit “no”. After all, if I didn’t need it I’d probably just fritter it away somewhere. I thought about bread. Wal-mart was in the midst of stocking that section and the bread guy wasn’t there yet. If I got cash, I could be sure to be able to go through the drive through dairy to get some. I punched “yes.”
Into the van went the mailbox, post, box of juice bags, box of Coke, toilet paper, and a few plastic bags full of exciting things like toothpaste, zip-lock bags, and buttons for my new skirt over at Skirting the Issue. I pushed my cart to the corral and walked back to the van. A small white car drove up behind my van and a woman called to me for help. I don’t like being called to for help by strangers. I’m kind of uncomfortable with that. Ok, I’m a lot uncomfortable. So with a stomach churning like I ate last week’s potato salad, I went over to her car.
The stench of stale cigarette smoke didn’t help my stomach.
“Can you help me? I didn’t realize how low I was on gas and I live in Mojave (50-60 miles away)…”
I didn’t let her finish. It wasn’t an attempt at rudeness, I promise. I had to get away before I hurled. I held up a finger and hurried to my purse. I had 20 dollars. I knew it. After all, I’d just gotten it as “cash back.” I hurried back, handed it to her, smiled and went my own way. She thanked me genuinely.
I forced myself to push ideas of buying alcohol, more cigarettes, or drugs with it. After all, she’d asked for help. I gave her what I could. I needed to trust the Lord for the outcome. It wasn’t my business anymore. As I settled into the van, I realized that this meant I had to go across the drive to Albertsons. I had no cash for the dairy. Drat.
I drove across that strip that divides Wal-mart from Albertsons and tried not to watch the Albertson’s gas station. It wasn’t my business anymore.
I guess the Lord needed to teach me a lesson. The car pulled in behind another car and parked. At this point, all pretense of not watching was gone. I watched. The woman went inside, was there long enough to leave the money to fill up (and at 3.15 a gallon, let’s face it, even a small car isn’t going to fill up on 20 dollars if it’s on empty!), and returned to pump.
As I stepped from the van, I saw her drive away. She didn’t go back in for change. I didn’t think she would.
I saw a mother (someone I have a nodding acquaintence with) wheel a cart to her SUV and her girls jumped off in pretty little dresses. They looked as sweet as anything climbing into the vehicle, over the seats, and buckling themselves in- giggling all the while. Their blond hair grabbed me for some reason.
My “woman” had blond hair. The haggard looking, smoke drenched woman who appealed to a stranger for gas money, had once been someone’s little girl. Had she skipped to the car next to her mommy years ago? Did she wear pretty little dresses and have her hair in pigtails and ribbons?
I wonder about my initial reaction. I had to stop the suspicions about whether or not she’d waste the money I gave her. That wasn’t my business. I know that it is common for people to misuse that kind of help. We’re not supposed to be naive about these things but- Sigh. I don’t ever remember Jesus saying to those He helped, “are you worthy or will you waste it?” He just served them.
I know He was God in the flesh. I assume He knew their hearts. But He was human too. Did He always look into their hearts just because He could or did He just serve and allow His practical love work its magic with the hurting? Was His willingness to serve without a hint of question or condemnation enough to make them want to live up to that trust?
Does it matter?
I got a lot for that 20 dollars today. A whole lot more than the woman got I’m sure. Somebody’s little girl got gas and I got a blessing I can’t quantify