Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Worthless Act of Kindness

It was October of last year when my heart was broken over a woman begging at the corner...a woman whose name I knew.

After that moment, I took steps to fulfill Jesus' command to feed the hungry positioned on street corners. Instead of being well-intentioned, I would be ready for my next encounter with a cardboard sign.

A few weeks later, a dozen brown paper bags were stuffed with a New Testament, chocolate pudding cup, plastic spoon, pack of gum, peanut butter crackers, and box of apple juice.

That was six months ago. And I haven't met a person begging since.

It's like the needy were everywhere I turned and suddenly, they weren't. Vanished. Even still, each time I get behind the wheel, I catch a glimpse of the bag, reminding me.

On Monday, I got my chance.

I didn't see him until the light turned red and I stopped hard, first in line. Quickly, I rummaged between the front seats, rolled the window down and held out the bag--"Sir...". He thanked me, and then I watched as he tucked the package up high between a flat road sign and its metal post. I noted he had already placed a newspaper in the same niche.

As I drove to Target, I was thankful God gave me the chance to show someone His love.

A few hours later, we drove back across that same intersection.

The man was gone. The package was still there.

I must admit, I was more than a little disappointed. But one positive outcome is you can't feel too prideful when you realize you really didn't help the person.

Will I hand out another bag? Definitely. Even if the next person throws his bag away, too.

I know my God doesn't critique my actions based on whether or not they result in a successful outcome. He looks at my heart, my obedience to His word.

And, more importantly, I can rest certain that although that man did not read the Scripture I placed in his hands, God's word never returns to Him empty.

A worthless act of kindness? There is no such thing.

"As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,

so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it
(Isaiah 55:10-11).


  1. Jennifer,

    Good stuff here.

    All He asks us to do is follow His leading and that is exactly what you did.

    Keep doing exactly that.


  2. Your obedience is so encouraging and inspiring today, Jennifer.

  3. Of course, here I sit trying to analyze what happened behind the scenes, after you left him with the package. (I have all kinds of interesting scenarios. :)

    We talk a lot in my house of athletes about "ready position" -- it's the athlete's stance, no matter the sport, where he's ready to act. Usually, on the balls of his feet, knees bent, seat dropped: when it's time to move, he's ready.

    Ready position -- seems like that's what you've got going on here. You are ready to move when God provides the opportunity. As Julie says, keep doing that.

  4. We came across a homeless man in San Francisco a few years back. He asked for money. We bought him a bread bowl of clam chowder instead, and he just set it down and didn't eat it. I don't understand that, but Father is smiling down on his faithful sons and daughters...

  5. Okay, I'm up to date again... read about Birdie, and the Walmart thank you balloons, the day off at the zoo, and this sad brown bag experience.

    I'm leaving my comment here because this is the last one I'm reading for this visit.

    I know now the brown bag wasn't really for that man... apparently he wasn't as needy as he appeared to be. He didn't even bother to check what what inside? I would have loved those goodies you put in there! Well, thank God...the brown bag was for you, and for us your blog readers.

    So we'll know what an act of kindness really means. To give without expecting in return, and to not let the other hand know what the right hand is doing. I mean...there are things we do in a day expecting to be appreciated... You are so right in what you wrote on this post! Man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart.

    I certainly enjoyed visiting with you this morning, dear Jennifer. Thank you for the inspiration I am taking away with me. Know that I am keeping you close to my heart as I know your day is ending over there. (By the way I hope the oil spill is not affecting you directly.)

    Much love