Catching Hope

Looking for the grace of God that surrounds us

The Face on the Side of the Road

on May 11, 2010

The man who always stands at the corner of the freeway exit and 11th Avenue, holding his pleading sign up to passers-by, has a face.

I couldn’t tell you exactly what he looks like, because my glances at him are furtive–studying him for brief moments in time while he looks the other way.  I don’t want to meet his gaze.

I have, once or twice.

And I never know what to do.

Because I know that behind the face is a man.  And that the man has a story that is as real as my own is.

My heart hurts, because I know this–and yet I don’t do anything.  I have the constant struggle–do I look the other way?  Do I smile?  Do I hand out a dollar or two, if I happen to have the cash?

I like to tell myself that I want to know his story.  I think, in many ways, I do.  But part of me assumes that it will be like so many other’s stories, who do what he does to earn a living.  Maybe it wouldn’t be true.  It can’t be trusted, right?  Because if he told me his story, it would be to get something out of me, wouldn’t it?

Or would it?

It is probably not wise, as a single woman alone, to stop my car and start talking to the man on the side of the road.  But sometimes I wish I could.  There is as much hope for this man as there was to me, when I was a lost sinner.  In that way, we are no different.  We are both human, made in the image of God.  We both desperately need Jesus.

My car again pulls up to the same intersection.  I stop at the corner; he is there and he is looking the other way.  I steal a glance in his direction, just in time to catch his eye.  This time, I turn my gaze and appear to pretend I never saw him.  And then I am ashamed, as my conscience pricks and my heart begins to feel a sting.

Lord, give me eyes to see as You see.  Give me your heart.  Give me grace to react as You would.  To love as You do.  And don’t ever let me forget that behind each face on the side of the road is a person, with a story, that You made and that You love.

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2 responses to “The Face on the Side of the Road

  1. Ryan says:

    Thanks for the post. I am so often afraid and self interested. I suppose I don’t want to know their stories, because I don’t want to have to do something. May the Lord give us grace to be selfless and “give to the one who begs.”

    By the way, his name is Robbie.

  2. Dale says:

    Kristi, is it unreasonable to suggest that you ask Ryan to go with you and the two of you go and meet the man? I’ll supply the cash, you supply the contact and the gospel ( in word and action), God will supply the compassion.

    So often we stew in the lessons of compassion rather than risking effort. We treasure our guilt as if being guilty somehow exonerates or justifies us. Don’t believe it. Help. One wonders if it is not a divine providence that this man should choose a corner where so many will pass on their way to church . . . on their way to worship the One who did not turn away when they stood at the intersection of heaven and hell with their little signs: “Selfish, untrustworthy, hell bound and sinful. Can’t help myself. Help me.”

    None of us can do everything, but all of us can do something, and according to James 1:27, we must do something if our religion is to be “before God” and “pure” and “undefiled.” Will a meal, a dollar or two, a kind word solve the problems and keep the man from this corner tomorrow? Probably not. But at least it can be said, “I was standing on this corner with my sign the other day, and Jesus came by. He stopped. He spoke. He helped.”

    Just a thought.

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