When God Brings The Unexpected
by Bev Brown, Set Me Free Ministries Prayer Team Coordinator
Last Saturday was a special day for our family. We all celebrated our “un-birthdays.” We had our day completely planned out, and it promised to be fun despite the 104-degree heat advisory! One of those bouncy castles, some pizza, and even an un-birthday cake would make the day perfect. But God was about to send me an encounter that I had not planned on.
As I exited my car to pick up our pre-ordered pizza, a man approached me. At first I thought he was an employee who was just taking a cigarette break, but then I noticed he was dripping with sweat, and his clothes were a bit soiled (at this point I hoped he hadn't prepared our pizza!). He began to tell me that he was cleaning rental properties and was on his way to one of them when his car began to leak brake fluid. He just needed $5 to purchase some new brake fluid to get his car to the shop to be repaired. He said he was embarrassed to ask me, but didn't want to have to call his wife who would have to leave work. He also mentioned they had a little baby who was in daycare. I think that was supposed to tug at my heartstrings, which, of course, it did.
You have probably all been in that situation. Scripture admonishes us that, if we, as Christians, shut up our hearts to a brother in need whom we have the ability to help, then the love of God doesn't truly abide in us (I John 3:17). So, I asked him if he could please wait until I went inside to pick up the pizza, and I would see if I had $5 with me since I rarely carry cash.
My thoughts swirled as I went inside. This was definitely one of those “W.W.J.D.” moments. Having been on the board of directors for our local mission, I knew the caution against handing someone cash. Had he been asking for food, I might have grabbed a pizza for him, but he was asking for brake fluid! I even asked the pizza guy if they had a problem in the area with people asking for money. He said that they do and then just flat out told me not to give him any money.
After paying for the pizza, I had exactly $5 in my wallet. I took that as a sign, and after carefully placing my hot pizza in my hot car, I handed him the $5. My thought at that moment was, “If he really needs the $5 for brake fluid, I have been able to help out a man in need, and if he is just scamming me, I am only out $5.” He thanked me, and I said a quick, “Lord bless you.”
Whew! That was over. I had been obedient to the message God gives us in I John 3:17. But wait a minute … God wasn't quite done with this lesson. He gently reminded me of the scripture in Acts 3 that I had just read a few days prior to this incident. This is the story of a lame man who would daily beg at the Temple gate hoping for someone to have pity on him and give him money. Peter and John, however, gave him something much greater. “… Peter said, 'Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.' And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.”
Ouch! The conviction was pretty strong at that moment, and my car immediately became a confessional. Just God and I. “Lord, I am so sorry. I should have prayed with him. I left him with nothing but a measly $5. Please forgive me. And if you will entrust me with another opportunity, I will boldly proclaim Your Name.”
I have been praying for that man ever since. I've lifted him up countless times before the throne of God. I've asked myself what is lacking in my relationship with my heavenly Father that my first thought was, “Do I give him the money?” instead of “Lord, how can I pray for and with this man to give him something that will be eternal and not temporal?” The good news is that God is not done with me. Just like that man, I am a work in progress. Thank you, Lord, that you are slow to anger and abounding in mercy. Even with a slow learner like me.