Hindsight… sure wish it was foresight. I think we’d all like God to send us a packet detailing out our future so we can understand what’s going on and make right choices. I’m not so sure how that would work out though. We generally like to do things our way, not God’s. Remember Jonah? He had a plan of his own. Once he heard God’s plan he took off the other direction. Sometimes, God tells us what we need to hear and we just ignore it. Like me. I saw something, and I wasn’t the only one, but I didn’t listen.
I’m sure this is not an unusual story. Many lives end in similar tragedies. This one makes me feel bad though. For a couple of weeks, I saw this young man standing by the roadway, in a town I frequently pass through. He had a sign, like you often see, saying he needed work. By the look of him, you could tell this was no joke. He wasn’t just a panhandling bum. He was in trouble. I felt God’s Spirit tugging me, gently, but I just kept driving on by.
A friend of mine, more mature than I, felt this tug too. He stopped and talked to the man. Turns out the guy was kicked out of his home by his family because of his drunkenness. He also had epilepsy. This was rock bottom. His family loved him, but he made the choices that landed him on the street and he knew it. Now he was struggling to put his life back together.
Not everyone can be helped. He was on the street because his family couldn’t help him. It was the wake-up call he needed. But no man is an island.
“If one falls down, his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up”
This is the very thing followers of Christ are made to do, help people up. I think it takes maturity and wisdom to help someone in this situation. You may only be able to offer a cup of coffee and a kind word, but that’s something. And I know we can’t help every need we see. It’s just too much. We’re limited people too. But when God tugs on your heart, a believer should listen.
This week, that young man was sitting by the river and went into an epileptic seizure. He fell into the water and drowned.
God knew his time was short. My friend intended to talk to him again, but like me, the next time he came by he passed him up, despite the Spirit’s calling. I’m certain God gets his work done with or without us, but I can’t help but feel there was more we could have been apart of if we’d slowed down enough to listen and act.
Maybe this is just hindsight talking. If he was still standing by the roadway, maybe I’d still be ignoring him. But he’s not. And now I’ve learned something.