Change is one of those words in our English language that can be used as either a noun or a verb. Used as a transitive verb Webster’s defines it like this; to make radically different; transform. As a noun “change” could refer to that irritating pocket full of coins we sometimes carry around
Just prior to summer setting in this year in Arizona, the company I work for held a drive to help the homeless called Hope for the Highway. It was initiated by a friend of mine who wanted to see our company do something for the homeless in our area before summer hit.
Our company put out boxes to receive donations of water, food and hygiene products all over our campus here in Chandler. The response was overwhelming. On a set date, volunteers got together and packed over 300 small bags. With over 30 volunteers, we had an assembly line. Each volunteer enthusiastically packed each bag until all of the donations were gone. Then, each volunteer got to take some of the bags to be given away to the homeless wherever they encountered them.
I personally ended up with about 5 of these bags. and carry them along with the Name2AFace Gear bags I normally carry. These were bags I would give away without really taking the time to talk with someone.
On one particular day I was driving to the Phoenix Rescue Mission. I have been mentoring men there for almost 3 years. I got off on 19th Ave from I-10 and went down the ramp to turn and head for the mission. Each and every time I exit this ramp, I see homeless people panhandling at the traffic light. This day was no exception.
There was a homeless man on my left walking up and down by the stopped cars acting somewhat deranged. I’d see him before but was never able to get his name. He seemed a perfect candidate for one of the bags I packed at work, so I rolled down my window, waived him over and handed him the bag.
Immediately he started flipping the clear bag and its contents end to end. While flipping it, he asked, “Any change in this?” I was infuriated!
“How dare you” I thought, ask for change when I’ve given you something so much better. In my rage, I was half tempted to get out of my truck, rip the bag out of his hands and give it to someone else who would actually appreciate it! Man I was pissed! I drove to the mission met with the guys I was mentoring and more than likely shared this story of ungratefulness with them.
Then it happened. I few months later, I had breakfast with a good friend at a small café in Tempe. Somehow, we got to talking about ministry to the homeless and I shared this story with him.
He looked at me and smiled, then asked, “Why were you mad?” There it was; the million-dollar question. I knew where this was going. My heart was already being prepared for what he said next and that it would be my take away from our breakfast that morning.
Cecil looked at me and said, “what a follow up you could have had with a comment like ‘it depends on what type of change your looking for.’” Even if I had been that quick on my feet, I would not have had time at the light to have this conversation but it really got me thinking about why I reacted the way I did when I claim to have a passion for our homeless neighbors!
While he completely agreed I was probably correct in my righteous indignation it led to an in-depth conversation on seeing this world through the eyes of Jesus. The Holy Spirit often speaks into our lives through the words of good friends. Thank you, my brother, for your perspective and not being afraid to confront me in friendship!
If we continue through this life claiming to follow Jesus let us daily see our neighbors through his eyes; one of compassion and love!
Matthew 22: 37-39 puts it this way; “Jesus declared, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Powerful words to live by that create the right type of change!
Breathing Life International