This story again involves my niece Hannah, who at the time of these events was nine and a half.
Hannah was out on a pre-Christmas shopping trip with her mother (my sister) and was quite looking forward to it as she was going to buy some new shoes. On their way to the store they passed a homeless man who sat by the side of the path, there was nothing out of the ordinary about this man (other than being homeless) but Hannah could not take here eyes of him.
She turned to her mother and asked if there was anything they could do for him, maybe give him some money. Her mother explained that they had only the £10 to buy the shoes with them. Hannah, without further thought, suggested – nay requested they use the money to buy him some food. Her mother told her that there really was no other money and if they broke that £10 there would not be enough for the shoes but Hannah was adamant.
So, accompanied by her mother, Hannah approached the man, dodging the crush of Christmas shoppers all crossing the road to avoid him. She asked if he would like some food, he said yes he would. So they went to a burger bar and bought him some hot food and a hot drink. He was very grateful and, Hannah remarked, he even gave a bit to his dog who probably had eaten as little as he had.
But there’s more to this tale.
Further along their trip, they had gone into a newsagents to look at some cards for Christmas and after some time Hannahs mother saw a ten pound note under her foot. Immediately she looked around to see who could have dropped it – there was no-one around save her and Hannah. She looked for an assistant – none to be seen. She had not moved from that spot for a few minutes and she could not remember this money being there before.
God had provided. Hannah had her shoe money restored.
Okay so we could come up with any number of explanations for the £10 under the foot. She hadn’t noticed it, she should have handed it in, she could have had the money but not realised and then dropped it.
Perhaps we could come up with critcisms or synicism about the homeless guy. “He was probably a fake”, “He should have got a job”, “I bet he earns more than I do”. All excuses to avoid doing the one thing he wanted – help.
But isn’t all that kind of missing the point of the story?
Surely, the real lesson here is the sacrifice Hannah made. She had no idea the money would be restored, she was prepared to go without the new shoes in order to feed that man (and his dog). She did not consider, how or why he came to be there. She gave no thought to his authenticity. She crossed the road in the opposite direction to most others to speak to him. How many people do you think had done that during the day? How many people do you think had helped him? And the real tough one – how many Christians do you suppose had passed him by?
Hannah offered help with no thought of compensation. How many times have we done something looking for the “brownie” point or trusting “God will provide”. What if this time He doesn’t? Does that mean next time we don’t either?
In another story involving Hannah I remark that Christ suggests we become like a child in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Perhaps we have more to learn from them than we think.
Hannah was no extra-ordinary nine year old (past tense because she is older now), she is probably the same as most of the ones you know. Try watching them and see what you can learn.