Since my family expanded from 2 to 5 members, it seems my watch has started to run faster. What used to be one 2-minute bathroom break per weekly shopping trip has turned into at least one 15-minute detour, sometimes two. And whereas I used to skip lunch, now the brood insists taking time for food is mandatory.
Each time I venture into town, I struggle to get the children home for 2:00 nap time. Sometimes on the 30 minute drive home, I sing loud, goofy songs with Wyatt or reach back to shake little legs and feet in hopes of keeping the twins awake just a few more minutes.
Yesterday was no different. But traffic wasn't cooperating, and the twins had already drifted off. If I didn't get them home soon, there would be no napping in cribs, no quiet time for me to decompress.
As I drove at full speed onto the exit ramp, I saw it 100 yards in front of me--a green light. I pushed down the gas pedal.
And then I saw her--a woman standing with a cardboard sign beside the white line that told cars where to stop. I sighed. It seems there's always someone at this particular intersection...and it seems the light always turns red so I have to sit there as I face stoically forward, pretending to ignore the person's sign, the shabby clothes, the weather-worn face, the need.
As I drove, I kept my eyes firmly on the light, as if my willing it to stay green would do just that. And this time, it did.
But as I whizzed toward the intersection, I glanced her way and gasped. It wasn't her sign that said "Traveling. Need Help. God Bless."
It was the knowledge that this wasn't an anonymous face. I knew this woman's name. I knew part of her story. I knew she had family.
My heart immediately felt the crush of God's convicting Spirit. I was shamed by my own rush to get through the green light just so I could avoid her.
Could I change my mind? Stop to offer help? No. The light remained bright green. And traffic behind me wasn't too thrilled that my sudden braking might make them have to sit at a red light and avoid her silent request for help.
Each time I ignore the anonymous face, my conscience burns within me. When with my husband, I will sometimes give a ready-to-eat food item to ensure they at least have something to eat. But most of the time, I do nothing.
Each weekend, I have a "to do" list. Since I know it's just a matter of days before I see another face behind the cardboard, this weekend's list includes a plan to create small packages that will minister to the body and soul of those I encounter at red lights.
My Lord and Savior said, "For I was hungry and you fed me; I was thirsty and you gave me water; I was a stranger and you invited me into your homes" (Matt. 25:35).
Without the help of others and God's grace, I could be the one standing there feeling others' disdain and scorn.