Have you ever felt so unsettled from ignoring God’s voice? I have. Multiple times actually. On September 24th, 2020, however, I felt it in a completely different way. I responded to God’s call three different ways for the same thing on the same evening. As I continue to grow in Christ and dive deeper into my faith, things continue to change. My interests, my thoughts, my desires, my responses, and so on to continue to be molded into Christlikeness. The Holy Spirit is transforming me and I love it.
It was a cloudy Thursday evening, and I was at work. It was a regular work day to me, nothing much going on. Usually, I do the second and final security tour of the building, but I asked my shift supervisor if she wouldn’t mind doing the tour that evening. I was either very tired that day or was not feeling well. After my lunch break I went to 7-Eleven. Though I wasn’t buying anything for myself, I went to go buy something for my shift supervisor and some snacks that Dania would be able to eat because she was dealing with acid reflux.
As I approached the 7-Eleven, I saw someone who appeared to be a person in need standing next to the entrance of the store. As I was walking by him to get to the door, he asked if I had some money to give him. I truthfully told him that I don’t have cash on me. To which he responded, “well maybe on your way out then.” I uncaringly said, “ok.” I usually would ask if they wanted me to buy something for them, but I didn’t that time. I went in and grabbed what I was going to buy and went to the cashier. As I’m paying, the machine asked me if I wanted cashback. I thought about it for a moment and clicked no, finished paying, and grabbed my stuff. As I was leaving, I thought about the man that asked me for money and I thought: ah I could’ve gotten $5 cashback to give to him. nah that’s too much work. it’s too late to go back now, I already paid. he’ll be alright, I told him I didn’t have cash. I got out the store and couldn’t even look the man in his eyes and coldly walked passed him. I could tell he was staring at me. He said, “have a good night man”, as I continued to walk away. I replied with a quick, “you too”, and swiftly returned to work.
After returning to work, I grabbed the book I was reading early on during my shift and went to go relieve my shift supervisor so she can do the tour. I was reading Dangerous Prayers by Craig Groeschel. I was on Chapter 3, “Send Me”, in sub chapter 3.2 “When God Calls, Answer”. I usually read one sub chapter per day, but I think, on this evening, I read two. While reading, Craig started talking about responding to God’s commands. He mentioned the three responses we give God, one by one, with examples straight from the Bible. “Here I am, Lord, but I’m not going” (Jonah 1:2-3). “Here I am, God, but send someone else” (Exodus 3:10-11). “Here I am. Send me” (Isaiah 6:8). I went through all three of these responses in the same evening, within just a couple hours.
As I read, I gradually started to feel more and more guilty (and that was just a start). I read a story Craig told in his book about a similar experience with a very similar response. I felt the guilt swelling up inside. I not only said no to the man in need, but I said no to God. Here I am God, but I’m not helping this time.
As my mind was racing and my heart was beating rapidly, I started to think so much about how I missed an opportunity to help someone in need. Gradually, I kept trying to find ways to justify to myself why I did what I did. To try and ease the guilt, I was settling on the thought that “if it is in God’s will, then that man will get the money he needs. Someone else will provide.” I continued to read the book and realized that what I was doing is exactly what Craig mentioned next. Here I am Lord, but please have someone else help.
It wasn’t until toward the end of that sub chapter that I felt like God was telling me to do more, to go back there, to help this poor and needy man. The guilt came rushing back in! However, my attitude was different. I was disappointed with myself, yet, I really wanted to go back to the store and see if that man was still there so I can help him but I couldn’t leave my post until my shift supervisor returned. I tried to wait patiently and continued to read. As soon as my shift supervisor returned to the desk I started to be filed with excitement that I may be able to potentially answer God’s call. I was on the last page of this sub chapter and on the second to last paragraph and I heard a voice in my head saying, “Go now.” I responded to the thought with, “but I’m almost done with this sub chapter, just a few more sentences.” Then I heard again, “GO NOW! Do you want to miss another opportunity?” I placed my bookmark and shut my book immediately and bolted out the door. Here I am Father, send me to help this man however I can.
I didn’t want to think too much on it, I just knew that I wanted to help. As I approach the 7-Eleven, I noticed he was still there, I walked right up to him and asked him if I can buy him anything in the store. He said, “just a Pepsi is fine.” I walk into the store and grabbed the Pepsi and went to go pay for it. The machine asked me again if I wanted cashback. I thought to myself, he said a Pepsi is fine, and clicked no. I walked out the store, handed him the Pepsi and said “God bless you bro”. He reached out his hand to give thanks, but I gave him a fist. He fist bumped me and I walked away feeling confident that I had done what God wanted me to do. I walked back to work and took an alternate path through a hallway to get back to the desk.
As I walked through the hallway, I felt a hot feeling in my chest. I stopped in my tracks and tried to identify what was happening to me. I heard a voice in my head saying, “that’s all you going to do to help this man?” Once again, my mind and heart were in sync, accelerating, and the guilt was eating at me. I started to ask God, “what did I not do? Did I do something wrong? Didn’t I just help him? I bought something for him!” I grabbed my phone and called Dania to see if she can help me relax and help me figure out what to do. I called and there was no answer. I had a feeling that God was telling me that I don’t need anyone’s help in figuring this out because I knew what to do. I started pacing back and forth asking myself, “did you help enough?” I got on my knees and literally put my forehead to the floor and prayed and ask God to forgive me, guide me and give me courage.
I got up and started walking back to 7-Eleven. I walked right past the man and into the store. I grabbed a water bottle and went to go pay for it. This time when the machine asked me if I wanted cash back, I pressed yes. Instead of $5, I took $10 cash back. After getting the cash, I walked right out the store. I walked up to the man and put the money in his beggars cup. I felt bad for treating him like he was dirty before so I shook him hand, stood beside him and started talking to him. I told him that I believed that God wanted me to help him. I asked him if he had a Bible. He paused for a moment and said “yes.” So because I knew I had to get back to work, I just asked him if I could pray with him before I left. He said “sure.” After praying I told him that I would keep him in my prayers. I let him know that God loves him.
While heading back to work, I realized I never got his name. So I ran back to him and asked him for his name. He told a name that sounded like a nickname. I then asked him if that was his real name. He said “no.” To which I replied, “do you mind giving me your real name so I can really pray for you?” He told me that his name is David. I told him it was nice to meet him and departed.
After I got back to work, I felt like I could’ve done more to help David and even spend a little more time with him, but I was just glad to have answered God’s call the best I could. I was delighted to have been able to pray with David. I shared this story with a few of my Brothers and Sisters in Christ so I’m more than happy to share this with many others. I want to do a better job at answering God’s calls, so, with every opportunity I get, I pray for courage and guidance so that I can answer properly and leave a positive impact to the Church. Church is not just a place, it’s the people.