I heard him before I saw him. He was asking for handouts. Even several yards away, where I was getting out of my car in the bookstore parking lot, his gentle voice carried. Silently I groaned to myself. It was the confrontation more than the people I had trouble with.
I looked in his direction as I came around my car. He was standing at the border of the lot, near the edge of the street passing through. With our distance maintained, I could still see bright blue eyes meeting mine. The stranger appeared to be old, quite disheveled, long dirty-gray beard, well worn clothes, shopping basket piled high with his life.
He repeated his plea, “Do you have any spare change I might have for something to eat?” He was well spoken. My heart tightened. My mind started racing – what was his story? No, stop this, I told myself.
Just at that moment I heard a soft voice whisper in my ear, “Be Jesus.” My soul quickened. “Lord, I’m here to finish this project, I really don’t have time for this.” What the heck was the matter with me? Was I really telling the Lord, “NO?”
My shoulders were saddled with tote bags and my purse. The cafe in the bookstore was beckoning me even now. I smiled apologetically at the man, shaking my head and said, “I’m so sorry, I can’t.” Expecting a rude retort, I was surprised to hear his sweet, smiling reply, “Oh, no, Ma’am, it’s quite all right, you have a good day.” And off he shuffled, dragging his cart.
I stood frozen in place for a moment. Two words kept repeating themselves in my head, “Be Jesus. Be Jesus.” I willed myself forward, each guilty step growing heavier than the next as I walked to the bookstore. Conflicted. Convicted.
Oh yes, I finished my project, that all important project. But what I thought about the whole time was how I wished I had put the project back in the car. I should have bought two sandwiches and drinks and gone out to where that old man was and shared a meal and spent some time with him. That’s what I should have done. The project could have waited. My opportunity to be Jesus for him had passed.
I confessed my sin to the Lord – that I had: a. Said “No” to HIM of all things, and b. That I had denied myself and the old man some good Jesus time together. I know I’ve been forgiven, but I have to tell you, that afternoon has been embedded in my mind. No longer am I going to wait for those occurrences where the “Be Jesus” moments come to me when the Lord has to tell me to act (and risk going off my rocker again and telling Him “No!”). I’m going to be a lot more observant and intentional about who and where I can minister. And less selfish.
Don’t be me. Be Jesus.