Proverbs 11:24-25 (ESV)
24 One gives freely, yet grows all the richer;
another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.
25 Whoever brings blessing will be enriched,
and one who waters will himself be watered.
This post is inspired by a story I was told a few days ago…
A woman decided to go to the beach one day. She had packed all the necessities, a towel, sunscreen, radio, sunglasses, a hat, and so forth.
She spread out the towel, sat down on it, and quickly arranged things around her. Then she finally laid down in the soothing warm sunshine.
Sometime later, as she lay on her back, eyes closed, she heard the shuffle of some feet walking her way. Soon, the lady felt the presence of another person close by. She opened her eyes to find a woman standing not ten feet away looking down at her.
This visitor was dressed in a pair of shabby pants and an over sized dirty top, and she was carrying her belongings in a plastic trash bag. It was obvious at once that this woman was most likely homeless.
Now many people would be immediately put off by such a person as this. They wouldn’t want to be bothered by the inevitable appeal which was surely forthcoming–the request for some money.
However, the lady on the towel was a bit different. She had decided some time ago that she was going to offer prayers for strangers in these situations, and yes, even money or a meal…something to help when she had it to give.
“Excuse me ma’am” said the poor tattered woman. “Can I ask you a favor?”
“Okay, but can I ask you a question or two first?” replied the woman on the towel. “First of all, what is your name?”
“Kathy” she replied.
“Hi, Kathy, my name is Colleen…it’s nice to meet you. I know you are probably in need of many things, but may I say a prayer with you?”
“Sure, if you want to.” said Kathy. Then Colleen invited her to sit down beside her and she led a prayer from her heart for Kathy. They both even said ‘Amen’ at the end of it…
Then Colleen turned to her and said “thank you for letting me do that. Now I think you wanted to ask me a question.” She was expecting her to make petition for some money. However, Colleen was completely shocked by what this lady did next.
Before she opened her mouth, Kathy rolled up her pant leg, reached into her sock, and pulled out an old flimsy wallet. She opened it up, fetched a one dollar bill, and replaced the wallet in her sock.
“Here,” said Kathy, “I want you to have this.”
Colleen could barely believe what was happening. This was a turn of events the likes of which she had never seen before.
Gathering herself as best she could, she told this needy but kind woman…”Kathy, this is very nice of you, but I don’t need any money. I would much rather have you keep it for yourself. Can I ask why you want to give it to me?”
“Well you see, I have been very well blessed. I mean even you said a prayer for me and I’m a complete stranger to you! I just decided I want to give back to people because they have been good to me; well at least most people have. I really wish you’d take the money, it would mean a lot…”
Still hesitant about things, Colleen again tried to reason with her. “But Kathy, I saw that you only have a couple of dollars in your wallet. I would say you certainly need all the money you have…and even more.”
“No, I’m in pretty good shape” replied Kathy. “I have enough for today, and I have faith in God and the goodness of people so tomorrow will take care of itself. I think some of that is in the bible or something, isn’t it?”
“Well yes it is. It’s in the book of Matthew” responded Colleen.
“Now you see” Kathy went on “we have some things in common. We both believe in God, we say prayers to Him, and we both know something about the bible. I’ll just bet that the Lord wanted us to meet today! Now won’t you please consider once again and take this money from me? I think Jesus preached generosity in the bible too.”
“Yes He does talk a lot about being generous” replied Colleen. “well, I guess if you are sure about this, I’ll be happy to take the dollar from you.” She reached out and plucked the money from Kathy’s hand.
Kathy smiled and seemed to be sincerely happy when Colleen took her offering. Immediately after that, Kathy said she had to be on her way.
“Are you sure you have to go?” asked Colleen. “We could just sit and talk a while. I’m very curious about you and your life.”
“No, I need to go” insisted Kathy. “I stay on the move most of the day; that’s just the way I am. Thank you for your kindness and prayer.” And with that, she began to walk on down the shore.
When Colleen got home, she took the dollar bill and framed it, finding a spot to display it on her dresser. It would serve as a daily reminder of Kathy and that day at the beach. Now more than ever before, Colleen was firmly convinced she would continue her practice of offering a prayer and some help to those who were in need.
And even though she visited that beach several more times, Colleen never saw Kathy again. But what mattered the most was the memory of this unusual but generous woman stayed with her always.