This morning I was on my way to a hair appointment before work. I went to Starbucks and got a coffee as a treat for getting up so early and realized I didn’t have any money in my purse to tip the stylist. I looked up the closest bank in the area and headed off. On my way there I noticed a young homeless man sitting on the sidewalk. I see at least 2-3 homeless people each day. Most of the time, if I’m honest, it makes me feel uncomfortable because I want to do something. If money wasn’t an issue I would give money every day if I could, but I know that’s crazy. I also have grown up outside NYC and you’re almost conditioned to assume that homeless people will use the money for drugs or alcohol. Most of the time I walk by, smile at them, and say a prayer. That’s all. And sometimes I feel guilty about it. Like I’m not a good Christian because I’m seeing a need and not doing anything.
Today was different.
As I got my money, and walked past him again I felt compelled. His sign said that today was his 28th birthday. Wow. It’s his birthday today. I’m passing a homeless person on their birthday. At this point I needed to be at my appointment and I couldn’t focus. I’m sitting there, grateful to be getting my hair styled, but I kept thinking about this guy. Should I get him a card? Should I get him a balloon? At one point the stylist asked me “Is everything ok?” I guess I looked like I was deep in thought or wrestling with something.
As my hair was being finished I made up my mind. I’m going to get him a birthday card. I’m going to give him the other $20 I took out of the bank.
I wish I could say that was it easy. That people surrounded me after delivering the card and told me how awesome I was. Haha. But I still felt my heart beating super fast the entire time. I felt nervous. I felt kind of stupid. I felt worried that I would buy this card and walk back there and he would be gone.
I heard a voice say that he would still be there. So I went to a CVS. I bought a card. I bought a pack of pens I didn’t really need but I needed something to write with. Of course there was no pen in my purse today. I walked to Bryant Park and I sat down.
I wrote Ephesians 3:20 in his card. I said the best was yet to come. I said I saw him earlier and knew I needed to come back. I licked the envelope and closed it.
How would he react? How would the people around me react?
It was pretty casual after all was said in done. I said “Hello”. He didn’t notice at first that I was talking to him. I said “I got this for you” and reached into my bag and presented the envelope that I wrote “Happy Birthday” on with a green pen. He smiled and said “Awesome thank you.” And I walked to work.
I felt pretty happy that I followed through. I felt pleased with myself that I didn’t chicken out. I think there are times where you’re not sure if God is talking to you. You want to hear God’s voice but sometimes it’s hard to tell if it’s yours instead. Today I think God spoke to me. I could have ignored it. I could have felt like I was only doing this for attention or to feel good about myself. The enemy could have succeeded in making me feel like this was for my own self-gratification. But instead, I just stepped out, shyly, and gave God’s child a birthday card. I gave him encouragement. I wrote the information for my church’s Sunday service at Best Buy with the times in case he wants to go. And that was my piece of the puzzle today.
I’m not special. This doesn’t deserve any praise. I am merely sharing because this is something small that anyone can do. If you feel nervous and scared when an idea pops into your head, if you feel convicted, I’m fairly certainly that’s God. I recognize that feeling. I’ve had it a handful of times. It’s like when people feel like they need to raise their hand to accept Jesus. Or when the preacher’s message sounds like it’s directly being spoken to you.
I encourage you to ask God to speak to you today. I’m sure He has plenty to say.