It could not have happened at a worse place. Thick traffic, narrow lanes, manic drivers, and there I was in the middle of it all fighting to stay awake. Seriously, right in the center of Atlanta, at malfunction junction, my eyes were crossing. After a week with very little sleep, I had finally hit my wall. So, at this point, it was imperative to be off the highway. I prayed, gripped the steering wheel, and looked for the first available exit.
Finally, a billboard boasted a Cracker Barrel, at exit 44. I would be able to walk around, get some coffee, call the Preacher and try to wake up. But that is not how it played out.
Oh, shoot, I exited in the wrong lane and was forced to go with traffic flow. Desperate to get out of the car, I pulled into the first fast food restaurant available. Hardees. I never eat at Hardees. Ever.
God had plans to wake me up. There at the entrance was a homeless woman, with all her worldly possessions at her feet. Oh, dear Jesus, I would have to pass her on my way in. Can we say awkward? I greeted her kindly and walked right past her, good Samaritan that I am.
“What’s up with that homeless woman by the door?” I asked the cashier. “Oh, she just needs some money.” “How long has she been out there?” “She’s been coming for about two years.” “Oh, mercy!”
It is not my first time to see a homeless panhandler, but it is always unnerving. Bells and whistles, inner turmoil, guilt for having a home to return to, guilt for having a life basically. Compelled to do something. What is that something?
Was that an angel out there? An angel, taking notes and reporting me to God.
Angel texting God: “Kinsey walked past, she gets credit for the smile and greeting, but she proceeded right past.”
God replies: “That’s not good enough. I have given her a very cushy life in comparison. She should invite that woman to go home with her and live with her and take care of her for the rest of her life.”
I have already been condemned to hell in my imagination. Deep soul sigh. (Am I the only one with this type of internal dialogue?)
The very fact that it could be an angel meant that I had to act. I do not want to let an angel down, do you?
I mean, I can walk right past a human who bears the image of God, but it is absolutely incomprehensible to walk past an angel and do nothing. That is holy logic at work, right?
I ate a burger while I ponder these things. Didn’t taste a bite. Didn’t enjoy it either.
Exiting the same door, I moved next to the woman, careful not to trample her little bags. I leaned back on the wall, looked at her and asked, “What’s your story?”
Surprisingly, she smiled and spoke very intelligently. (I had not stereotyped at all. Eyeroll.)
Hard times, no family around, just needed money to stay in a hotel, yadda, yadda.
“What’s your name?” “Angel,” she replied. (Not really, I just had to get you there.)
“Princess,” was her real answer. “Princess!” I mused, “Are you God’s Princess?” “Oh, yes!” she said with a big smile.
That opened the door for more conversation. I tell you; I thought my heart would break in two. Here was a child of God with deep pain and no place to stay. Here was an image bearer with no home. Where was God in this woman’s life? Why wasn’t He caring for His daughter?
I have no answers.
Over the course of our conversation, I prayed with her three different times. It felt weak and pathetic. What kind of God allows this? The gospel does not seem enough here. How do the four spiritual laws apply? God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life? Seriously?
She was grateful that I took the time to visit. I gave her a hug (with permission) and all the cash I had.
I got back in my car and cried. This world is so wrong. So, so wrong.
The gospel at times seems messy. My living out the gospel is messy.
I am still bothered by it all. I think I should be.
What does it stir in you?