I pulled into the parking space ready to jump out of the car as quickly as possible in order to get one last errand done. The day had been busy and it was almost time to pick up my daughter from school. I was in a bit of a hurry.
As I opened the car door, I noticed a man going through the parking lot asking other passersby for money. His clothes looked as if he had slept in them on more than one occasion. His hair needed washing and combing. It was obvious this was a man in need. No one was even paying attention to him, or if they were, it was to turn him down.
He was near my car and I had a moment of fear. Sad. I know. But I had two little boys with me, my 4-year-old son and his friend. My protective mommy instincts kicked in and I wanted to be in control of the situation before I let everyone out of the car.
My other fear was about the money. My husband and I have set a super strict budget for ourselves this year. We are tired of the debt hanging over our heads we incurred when he started his own business. This budget is so strict that even giving away a few bucks was going to be a bit of a sacrifice.
Gratefully, all of those fears and hesitations only lasted a split second when my desire to follow the spiritual promptings in my heart took over. I decided a few years ago to take King Benjamin's words to heart, "...ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain and turn him out to perish...for are we not all beggars?" Mosiah 4:16-27 If there is one thing the Lord has taught me over the years, it is to know that all I have comes from Him. All of it. He has been so kind and generous to me throughout my entire life time...
I looked in my wallet. There was a $20 bill and 3 $1 bills. The $20 was already spoken for so I grabbed the $3 and put my wallet away just as the man approached my car. "Do you have any change you can spare? I haven't eaten for a while and I'd really like to get a cup of coffee." His eyes were kind and I didn't feel any fear in my heart as he spoke to me.
I handed him the $3. He looked at the money in his hand with astonishment and then looked back at me, "Wow. I must be a lucky guy! I'm going to get a sandwich too." He said those words with such sincerity that I couldn't help but smile back at him with the same joy he was obviously feeling. With a cheerful wish for me to have a wonderful day, he was off toward a nearby restaurant.
I watched him as he walked through the parking lot. He passed other people along the way but he did not ask them for more money. I could tell he was grateful for what he had and he was on a mission to get some food. He wasn't out to gather as much money as he could from that parking lot, or to use the money for drugs or alcohol. He was simply hungry. I wished I had given him more.
The two boys and I ran into the store, grabbed the one item I needed and then found our way to the check out line. As the employee was handing my purchase to me she said, "Don't forget about the rebate for this item on your receipt." I was shocked. I hadn't known there was a rebate. She said it wasn't advertised, it just came up on the receipt. While the boys and I walked out of the store I looked at the receipt. The rebate was for $3.79.
The Lord had given the $3 back to me with a $.79 tip. He didn't need to do that. Feeling His love and gratitude was payment enough.
I don't know why this man is in the situation he is in and does that really matter? What matters is that I know he is one of God's children. He is my brother. I hope I can remember that about everyone more and more every day.
"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Matthew 25:40