About a week ago, I was leaving my favorite coffee shop when on the corner I noticed a family standing with a sign. They weren’t there five minutes before when I pulled in, but they were there now. I didn’t get to read the whole sign, but what I did see was this word, “hommless.” It was a father, mother, and two young children. If I had to guess the children were three and one. This wasn’t the first time I have seen someone holding a sign like this before, but this was the first time that I saw a family standing behind them. It was the first time that I saw a family on a random street corner in the suburbs of St. Paul.
My heart hurt. I couldn’t get the image out of my head. I drove down the road and something kept telling me that I needed to turn around and give that family anything that I had. Another voice was telling me, this isn’t real. There’s been reports of people doing this as a scam and they aren’t really homeless. They don’t need help. But, that just didn’t sit well with me. I heard it again, I needed to go and help them. I drove to the end of the road, parked, and started rummaging through all of the bags that I had with me. I didn’t have a lot of cash with me. I never do. But, I knew that whatever I had to give was what God wanted me to bring in that moment.
I turned around and drove back to the corner where I saw the family. As I was pulling up, I saw a worker from the nearby gas station asking them to leave. The father had one child in an arm and the mother had the other. I had pulled up just as they were piling back into their van. The children being put in car seats that they had clearly outgrown. I rolled down my window and told them that I had seen them. I don’t know why I even said that, but I thought it was important for them to know that they were seen. Sometimes when it’s uncomfortable it’s easier to just not look (I know, because I’ve done it). Before I could even hand the crumpled money over – the father looked me right in the eye and said, “God Bless You.” I gave him the money, he thanked me, and then hurried to leave the station.
A few days before this happened, my sweet sister-in-law, Michelle, sent me a video titled, “Shoulder Taps.” I thanked her for sending it, but I thought I don’t have time to watch this right now. Thankfully, Michelle prompted me again and asked if I had watched it. I hadn’t, but I said I would. When I initially saw the title, I honestly thought it was going to be a dance or something funny and I just didn’t have the “time” to watch it. But, to my pleasant surprise, it was so much more than a funny dance video.
The “shoulder taps” in this video isn’t the next dance craze. It’s the tap we receive from God. The gentle nudge that we sometimes need to take action, even if we don’t always understand it completely. I highly encourage everyone to watch this short video, it’s just 2 1/2 minutes and I promise that it will inspire you in some way.
We live in a world that has heartache, has become cynical (sometimes for good reason), and can honestly be scary. I’ve had to stop watching the news and often I have to turn the radio off in the car, because I don’t want the boys to hear the violence that is being reported. With all the darkness in this world, I realized that God was “tapping” me on the shoulder that day to be just a sliver of light for that family, but I think that family was more of a gift to me than I was to them. They gave me new perspective. They gave me a new appreciation for what my family and I have.
I wonder how different the world would be if everyone begins to submit to those gentle nudges to do something good. Sometimes change can seem so big and insurmountable, but it’s all the little acts that will eventually add up to real change.
Blessings to you and your family,
Three items I’m grateful for: