At the beginning of Christmas Break, I went to Washington, D.C., with some friends.
As you’d expect in a big city, we saw several homeless people. Occasionally, they would walk up to car windows to beg.
That’s always a difficult situation. Awkward.
Also as you’d expect, people avoided eye contact and sped away as soon as the light turned green.
One day, a homeless man walked by our car window, begging for help. As we started to drive away, my friend Anna broke the silence.
“And, somehow, life goes on.”
That simple truth, spoken so tenderly, made my heart sink.
I would never see that man again. He’d held out his cold, begging hand. Had I clenched mine?
Ever since that moment in D.C., Anna’s sentence has been tugging at my heart.
We pass people every day. Some of the faces we know, others we don’t.
But what of the story behind the face?
Think of the people you sit next to in class.
Do you know their stories? Do you even remember their names? Do you want to?
Often, I think about the people I walk by.
Like the little girl I passed at an airport last week. She was beautiful.
Her skin was dark and her thick, curly hair was tamed into two buns on her head. She wore name-brand clothes.
She was probably only 9 years old, but she already had enough confidence to mouth off to her mom. And mouth off she did.
Her mom, who tried desperately to keep up with her daughter’s brisk pace, also wore name-brand clothes.
But her head was lowered and her shoulders sagged beneath some invisible weight.
I never spoke to these two, but they certainly made an impression on me.
What was their story?
Recently, I saw another homeless man in Philly. He wore a gray hoodie, pale blue jeans and white tennis shoes.
It was 29 degrees. He held a cardboard sign: “Homeless. Please help. Thank you. God bless.”
Anna’s words echoed in my head: “Life goes on.”
As we drove past the man, I remember asking myself, “How can life just go on?”
I can’t prevent it from going on. The going on is inevitable.
But ignoring the going on is definitely not what Jesus would do.
Who took a detour through Samaria to speak to an adulteress?
Who was too focused on the needs of sinners to eat?
Who gave up his evening to share the Gospel with a tax collector?
Who died so we could have life?
Jesus. He took the time to learn people’s stories. He took the time to meet their needs.
The fact that we drive by, mildly irritated, averting our eyes probably indicates something unflattering about us, whatever the condition of the person is.
Should we make a contribution?
That’s a complicated question. But I’m pretty sure we should notice more and care more.
Learn someone’s story so that you will be able to share with them the wonderful story of Jesus.