I didn't know her name or age. Our conversation was brief. The wind chill was twenty-eight degrees, and she was huddled next to Parker's convenience store in shorts and a tank. Uh oh! What if someone saw me talking to her? What if I was seen handing her my son's UGA sweatshirt? Through her tears she whispered, "God bless you." Through my tears, I drove back to my nice, warm home. She wasn't freezing anymore, and that was all that mattered.
I didn't know his name or age. He was a black man, obviously mentally challenged. I observed him while I sat in the McDonald's drive-thru as he swept up the trash. Teenage boys pulled up beside him. "Hey retard!" The man bent down to pick up the mess the boys threw at his feet. When he stood, he looked my way. I motioned for him to come closer. His eyes were filled with tears, and my heart broke. I bragged about his work and told him to ignore the mean boys. I offered him a twenty. "I can't take nothing from a white lady." I smiled, and said I'd be honored to share with him. For a moment, he squeezed my hand. The color of our skin made no difference. he had been hurt, and that was all that mattered.
He actually did know her name. He had seen her many times before. He offered her a ride and some food. Together they walked into Little Ceaser's, much like any other couple. But she was homeless and destitute and he was a handsome young pastor picking up dinner for his family. Two pizzas later, each of them went their separate ways. But she wasn't hungry anymore, and that was all that mattered.
We don't know her name or age, but Jesus engaged in His longest single conversation recorded in scripture with that ashamed and broken Samaritan woman. It was very hot, and Jesus was thirsty. "Will you give me a drink?" Uh oh! Jews weren't supposed to speak to Samaritans. Men weren't permitted to address women without their husbands present. Why would anyone pass the time of day with a shady lady who had five husbands and was sleeping with another man? Instead of insisting she pour Him a drink, He offered her living water. She focused on her shame. Jesus focused on grace and eternal life, and that was all that mattered.
There are many seeking living water today. people of color, poor people, hungry people, people in prison, homeless people, hurting people, and the list goes on. Are you willing to provide that water? The season of Lent is the perfect time to consider an invitation to be at risk. We have an invitation to cross social boundaries and taboos. We don't have to know their names or their ages. All that matters is that we help them. And as that same young pastor reminds us each week...Err on the side of grace!