What shall I do? I expect to pass through this world but once. Therefore any good work, kindness, or service I can render to any person or animal, let me do it now. Let me not neglect or delay to do it, for I will not pass this way again.~ a Quaker saying
We met in church. Her clothes were dirty and hair a mess, and it was difficult to understand what she was saying when she spoke. My heart went out to her. Yet I admit I was a little wary. I’ve been taken advantage of before.
Despite my fears, I began greeting her every Sunday. One day she told me it was her birthday, so the next Sunday I brought her a present. Maybe that’s what started the phone calls. I don’t remember how I got involved. But every month she now calls asking me to take her to the store. She also always asks me to buy part of what she’s placed in the basket when we are checking out. The food she chooses isn’t always necessities nor cheap, but I usually oblige when I can. Yet I confess I don't always do so with grace because I wonder if I’m being conned.
This happened the other day when she called asking (slightly demanding) for me to go get some food. It was easier to go without her because of her physical problems, but this meant she wanted me to pay for the entire purchase. I had some extra cash and felt I should help, but I was fighting that nagging voice …am I being conned? Despite the negative thought, I went to the store with her list in hand.
Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely O Lord….(Psalm 139:4)
I hadn’t voiced my concern to anyone, even to God, but he knew. Driving home from the store, a voice on the radio teaching a brief lesson between songs said, “It is better to give and be conned than not to give and worry about being conned.”
Nothing like a tangible answer from God! The speaker even used the same words of that nasty voice in my head. I think he was quoting someone—I don’t know who, but it doesn’t matter because at that moment it seemed God spoke.
I couldn’t believe my ears. There was now absolutely no doubt in my mind that I had done the right thing, and the nagging voice of reason was silenced. At that moment, I realized the decision of whether or not to give is not mine to make. I am called to give what I can, and the integrity of the one asking for help is not mine to ask.
I am not to judge.
The truth is: I’ve never felt bad about helping someone, but I have grieved the opportunities I’ve not seized—opportunities I passed by because I’ve questioned their authenticity.
Next time this “friend” calls, I will not question my decision. I’ve been freed to give.
I hope you have been too.
Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality (Romans 12:13).
P.S. Once in awhile, I will post some of the lessons I’m learning about helping the needy. I would love to hear your stories too. Please send them to email@example.com or comment to this post.