I've been thinking a lot about C.S. Lewis lately. I really don't know why, except that I was reminded of this story the other day as I was walking down the streets of uptown Charlotte.
Walter Hooper remembers walking down St. Giles with Lewis when he stopped to give money to a beggar. "Aren’t you afraid he’ll spend it on drink?” asked Hooper. “Well, if I kept it I would.” said Lewis. He told the younger man that his rule regarding beggars was “When in doubt, give.”
I remembered this story because a man approached me as I was walking to my car after work one day last week and asked me if I had a minute. I said sure and he continued. This man was dressed in a white button-up shirt and tie, with nice slacks. He told me that he had been released from prison 6 days earlier and was trying to do some kind of work program. He showed me his completed paperwork and certificates of completion, but told me he had to get across town and couldn't find a way there. He'd been to the library, but they didn't have any more bus passes for the day. He'd walked to the police station but they don't give out bus passes. He asked me if I could spare some money for a bus pass. I asked him how much he thought he'd need and he said he needed to make three trips and each one would cost $2.25. I actually had cash on me (which is extremely rare these days), so I pulled out a 10 and asked him if that would be enough. He was so thankful and said, "That's more than enough! I might even stop and get a soda." He continued to ask me if I knew the Lord and I said I did. He said he could tell because of my generosity.
The crazy thing is that the moment I walked away I thought to myself, "I hope he's really going to use that money for good." But what does it matter? The story of C.S. Lewis immediately flooded my mind and I was reminded that God is good. It doesn't matter if that man was an awesome con artist or if he truly was a man in need. He asked me for something that I could easily give him, so I did. I think Jesus would have given it to him, too. And since Jesus is my ultimate role model, I feel good about it.
Conversely, a few weeks ago, David, Xander and I were walking in uptown Charlotte and a man approached David and told him that he hadn't eaten in a day and a half and wanted to know if David would spare some change. David didn't have any cash on him, told him that, and we continued walking. It hit me that Xander had a couple bags of unopened animal crackers in his diaper bag, so I turned around and headed back for the man. I pulled the animal crackers out of my bag, walked up to him and offered them to him. You know what he said? "I don't eat animal crackers." Wow! If I hadn't eaten in a day and a half, I think I would eat anything that was offered to me - even livermush or brussel sprouts! Oh well. I tried, right?
"Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindess in your face, kindess in your eyes, kindness in your smile."