Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Tuesday at Target

I was just approached by a woman in the Target parking lot. She tapped on my window after I buckled both kids in and asked me if I could help her get to a women's shelter in Minneapolis.
She told me she had 30 nights reserved for her there, but she had to get there and is there any way I could help her?
I told her I don't have much cash, but I could pay for one of her bus trips.
She said she hadn't eaten since she got off the Greyhound from New York.
I offered her the choice of any of the groceries we'd just purchased--including the Oreos!
She laughed at me and said, "No thank you. I'll just take the money."
So I gave her every penny I had--$1.95 in change.
As I drove away, I got to thinking...there's no Greyhound drop off near our Target. She laughed at my genuine offer of practical help. She approached another mother with children as soon as my window was rolled up.
I think I was fooled.
And that kinda ticks me off. Don't approach me when I've got my chicks in public. This mama hen is vulnerable in the open with her chicks.
As we neared our home and my blood pressure was nearing dangerous levels, God softened my heart. He reminded me that everyone has a story and what must hers be like that she's asking mama hens for money in a public parking lot? Did she intend for her life to take whatever path has brought her here?
In 2 Corinthians 1:1b-9 Paul writes:
For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, 2 of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.
It's so encouraging to learn that even Paul suffered discouragement and despair. If the God of mercy comforts me and comforted Paul, what right have I not to show love to a lady--"utterly burdened"--telling me lies through my car window on a drizzling Tuesday afternoon?
It irks me that she was, in all probability, lying to me...but, then again, maybe she wasn't. In truth, if I'd had more money, I would have given it to her. I guess it's perfectly providential that I had just enough to cover one bus ride. I think it's fair to deduce that she IS burdened and in some kind of trouble, so I hope my $1.95 makes a difference and somehow reminds her of the Truth: that she is loved and cherished by the God of comfort and grace.


Nana Jo said...

You should have offered to call a public service officer to give her a ride. That might have shook her up but if she was indeed in need, it would have solved her problem. I didn't know women came all the way from New York to go to a MN shelter!

Margaret said...

Just think what a lesson you taught your kids. It may have nothing to do with the lady at all. One of them might look back some day and say 'My Mom was so awesome. She offered all our food and money to someone in need.' Erin - YOU rock!

Lauren said...

Proverbs 3:27 - Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.

Saw that today and it made me think of you. :) your gift of hospitality knows no bounds, even extending to a stranger.

Love you, sissy!