Driving home yesterday, I passed a homeless begging man in his wheelchair, just as another man passed him on foot, paused, turned back, and began to pick the pockets on the backpack hanging from the chair’s handles.
“HEY!” I shouted from the inside of my car, and thought wildly, as the swell of traffic carried me forward, of trying to pull over to stop the man.
I seethed at the injustice, doubting whether anyone else on the street and noticed and would intervene.
On Glenwood, beyond Lee’s Liquor Lounge, a little community of homeless people always congregated beneath the building’s awning. I tried to catch glimpses of their faces, wondering what their stories were.
The righteous anger against one poor man stealing from another poor man wrestled with a genuine desire to help and a creeping guilt of my complacency.
I thought, acts of injustice happen all over the city every minute–how could I stop every one?
And then, opportunities for goodness are on every corner of the city–how could I avert my eyes at a red light?
Followed by, but if I see injustice and it is in my power to do something, I should!
Leading to, I cannot give to every homeless person in Minneapolis without becoming a slave myself.
Eventually I gave my head a little shake to dislodge all thoughts and make room for something helpful from the Spirit.
The reality is, he said immediately, many people don’t have enough.
Enough cash, enough clothing. Enough true friends. Enough hope, enough joy. Enough protection, provision, purpose.
Enough love, enough life.
And I, a daughter of God, have everything.
My car sailed down Glenwood, under the 94 bridge, and I grasped in my spirit the reality of what I have in Jesus, the breadth-and-length-and-height-and-depth of wealth, times the Trinity.
I felt his recognition of my heart to do justice, to favor mercy over judgment, to see myself and others as what he speaks over us, nothing more, nothing less.
I felt his assurance that he would tell me when to move and when to stay, when to speak and when to be silent, when to give, when to inquire, when to simply smile.
You can have everything, I found myself telling him. Because I have enough, you can have everything. I want to live from your heart of abundance.
And I knew, as I said it, that he would require everything of me–already has been stretching me in my resources–in a way that wouldn’t feel pleasant to my fears and dreams and plans, but would be explosive for my faith and sweet in its reward with Jesus.
You cannot take a city by isolated, random acts of kindness, but you can take a city by a lifestyle of exhaling the goodness of God’s heart, for where abundance is, people tend to flock. We are made to receive his abundance with a magnetism that cannot deny his attraction, any more than he can deny his nature to give.
And that, in turn, causes us to give away what we’ve received.
Fulfilled are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.
It’s the only cycle of poverty worth getting caught in.