I saw a homeless man in downtown Chicago yesterday. I actually saw a few of them, but this person for some reason touched my heart. It was bitter cold and he was walking with a sign saying “Hungry and cold”. I gave him some money and he asked for one more request. I thought he was going to ask for more money, but instead he asked, “Do you have a blanket?” I told him if I did I would have gladly given one to him. A blanket! A blanket! Worth more to him than cash!
I can’t stop thinking about him in the streets shivering cold. How do we solve and prevent this issue? I thought what if I could help one person at a time instead of trying to solve the whole problem on a broader perspective?
It reminds me of this story. I am sure many people know it, but I thought it appropriate for this situation so I am posting it anyway.
A man was walking along a deserted beach at sunset. As he walked he could see a young boy in the distance, as he drew nearer he noticed that the boy kept bending down, picking something up and throwing it into the water. Time and again he kept hurling things into the ocean.
As the man approached even closer, he was able to see that the boy was picking up starfish that had been washed up on the beach and one at a time he was throwing them back into the water.
The man asked the boy what he was doing, the boy replied,”I am throwing these washed up starfish back into the ocean, or else they will die through lack of oxygen. “But”, said the man, “You can’t possibly save them all, there are thousands on this beach, and this must be happening on hundreds of beaches along the coast. You can’t possibly make a difference.”
The boy looked down, frowning for a moment; then bent down to pick up another starfish, smiling as he threw it back into the sea. He replied,
“I made a huge difference to that one!”
A passage in the Bible reflects this response that I need to do. It is from Matthew 25:31-46
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 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, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
The golden rule applies her too and a portion of it is quoted by people from all walks of life. The quote is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This actually is taken from the Bible from the following verse. “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12
So thankful that I saw beyond the person into the need, because all he really needed was a blanket! My challenge to myself and to you is to have a warm blanket in your car, because you never know who you are really helping. His words will forever echo in my head, “Do you have a blanket?” The next time I see someone who is homeless, I would love for my response to be “Yes sir, I do have a blanket!”