The Loudmouth Protestant

July 9, 2008

The Cardboard Crew

Filed under: God,life — nickisym @ 10:05 pm
Tags: ,

Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

This scripture came to mind as I was walking toward the train to go home this evening. I happened to pass a woman who was sitting on the ground with her belongings and she had a piece of cardboard propped up that mentioned something of her need and the fact that we all are in need sometimes. Of course I agree with her that we are all in need but it plagued me that she wasn’t the only one of her kind with cardboard propped up, sitting with her belongings, begging for money. 

There is usually a young lady stationed outside of my office. She is there when I go in at about 10:00 AM, still there when I go for a walk at 1:00PM and still there when I leave at the end of the day at 6:15 or so. Yesterday her cardboard mentioned something about it being her birthday. There was yet another that I passed today on my afternoon walk, a woman, who had her belongings in tow and a cardboard sign propped up that mentioned she is two months pregnant. 

I never really know what to do when I encounter these people–in the past I’ve written about other experiences. But this time was different because of the one thing that they had in common outside of their obvious poverty–or laziness. Today I wondered what would Jesus do in this situation. Would he drop a few coins in their cup and keep it moving? No. He would tell each and every single one to take up their mats (boards) and walk. He would speak words to them that lifted them out of their situations and gave them hope and that’s more than a dollar can do. Just a touch from Him would heal their crippled mentality. And that was all I could think of as I walked past the last woman whose sign read “We All Need Help Some Time.” 

I wanted to tell her to pick up her mat and walk. Walk to help–because deep down inside I knew she was fully capable of it and I knew it would be much better than sitting in the heat waiting for someone to give her a dime. I wanted to tell her to walk to unemployment. Walk to the soup kitchen down the street. Get up and walk and do something other than sitting down day after day with no results. It’s insanity. But, what did I do? I kept walking. But she is still on my mind. They are still on my mind.

Maybe tomorrow–assuming God brings me into another day–I will have the courage to step to those women and tell them to take up their boards and walk. Or at the very least, ask them what they really need.

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