She must’ve been watching for me to exit the building, but I never saw her coming. Before my mind could even process the confrontation, armed with a baby in a stroller, she unraveled a tale I wasn’t sure was true. The facts were fast and furious as if speed would assure her success:

 …recently relocated from Ohio (quickly flashing some sort of ID my

…for now, staying at the Microtel, but tomorrow they’d call
the shelter

…her husband doesn’t like her to ask for help, but he was
inside with her boys using the restroom, so she was taking advantage of his

… they were a “little short”, they only had $3, could I help
them in any way?

… they had walked the distance in search of a McDonalds, but
since they couldn’t find one, they were back-tracking to Krystal (on the way
back to the motel)

Then the King will say to those on his right,
‘Come, you who are
blessed by my Father;
take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared
you since the creation of the world.


I stopped and turned toward her, processing words while
studying her face. She was younger than
me, her creamy cocoa skin belying age, hair hidden under colorful wrap, neatly
but plainly dressed. I asked her to
repeat what she said so my brain could catch up to the moment.


As she patiently and hopefully recited her request a second
time, my inner thoughts were debating the obvious—was this a scam? Did she just want money to buy alcohol or
drugs? Was there really a husband and
children inside? Did they set me
up? How long had I been watched?

 The irony is I had just stepped out of a Christian
bookstore.  An easy target?

The loudest voice in my head was a simple question: regardless of the truthfulness of her story,
how could I incarnate Christ in this moment?

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
I was a stranger and you invited me in

I asked her name–“Tammy”–and then told her I didn’t have
cash (true) but I’d figure out something. Promising I’d return, I headed to my van and prayer-thought my way in
the direction of Krystal. I planned on
bringing a bag of food to her, but decided cold, Krystal burgers and fries
would be disgusting. Instead, I opted
for a gift card.

During my drive time, anger began creeping in. Not at Tammy but at a fallen world where I’m not
free to help the way I’d like to because of the fear–no, make that possibility–of “what if”.  I didn’t want to just hand over a gift card for marginal burgers and fries–I wanted to invite them into my home!  My choice would not be for an entire family to WALK to Krystal (less than a mile from where I met Tammy), I wanted to pick them up and take them there; then, to where ever they were staying.  In a perfect world?  They would’ve been staying with US!

Please click for the conclusion


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