I may or may not have been scammed, and I may or may not care.
I was walking into the Dollar Tree the other day to help Santa with a little pre-Christmas elf work. Planted on the puddle-filled sidewalk about three feet from the door were two men who had set up a small stand. Sitting on their square folding table was a bucket for donations and a pile of candy. A sign taped to the table said something like Second Chance Ministry. One of the gentlemen called to me in a strong voice as I passed by, “Ma’am? Would you donate to help the homeless?”
“Absolutely! I’ll stop back on my way out.”
I’m not sure why my answer was so definitive. Maybe I should have hemmed a little bit. Anyway, as I carried on into the store, I had an unconscious thought: “20 bucks. I should give them 20 bucks.”
My slower reacting and more cautious side of the brain caught up with this train of thought and shouted, “Whoa! Wait a minute. You don’t even know if these guys are legit! How about $5? Or maybe just a few quarters?”
The thing is, that quick but quiet voice in my head comes from a much deeper place than the loud, obnoxious one. And when I hear it, I can say “By all accounts this seems crazy, but I really think I’m supposed to do this.” Some people call it a gut reaction. I call it God. You say to-MA-toe, I say to-MAH-toe. No I don’t I actually say to-MAH-toe. But I do believe it’s the Holy Spirit working in me and guiding me.
On this particular day, I decided to humor the rational voice. I stood in the checkout lane and googled Second Chance Ministries in Athens, Ohio. Nothing. Then I googled homeless shelters in Athens County. Nope. Non-existent.
I gathered my bags and headed through the door straight to the men’s table.
And then I started fire questions. Lots of questions. The man in charge talked about transformation and changing lives and how they are actually from the Columbus area, but come here to outreach. I asked about their lack of internet presence and what sort of government or church funding they receive, and who the executive director is, and how many beds they have available for the homeless. I talked that poor man in circles for at least ten minutes. At the end of the conversation, I still wasn’t certain of his motives. But I was certain of mine.
That’s why I smiled and dropped $20 in the bucket.
I don’t know what he’s up to. But I know what the Holy Spirit told me to do. And I am only responsible for my actions. Besides, kindness comes in many forms– like giving someone the benefit of the doubt.
As I walked back to the car, I had a little conversation with God. God, I have no idea what that was all about, but I know you’re bigger than any of this. So would you take that money from the bucket and multiply it and use it to transform lives in a way none of us could do on our own? Cause then it’ll be like I just scammed them– in a good way, of course.