Saturday, October 30, 2010

Eddie (Used with permission of the author)

If you're looking for geek talk this time, forget it. But feel free to read on, and please comment. If you think I've missed the mark here or I've misquoted something, or I'm taking something out of context, let me know. Or, if you just want to flame me, go for it. I'm an easy target.

I follow a very diverse group of blogs; tech, gaming, and Christian. Tricia is a friend of mine from when I worked with World Prayr, a little over a year ago.

When I read her post about Eddie, I started hearing this song in my head:

Make sure you watch the video, because it isn't what it looks like in the still shot.

As I read on through the story, I could see the events unfolding in my mind; and I could hear the words ringing in my brain: "Blessed are the merciful, for they well be shown mercy" (Matthew 5:7), and then my mind went to the "least of these." (Matthew 25:31-46)

When was the last time I was merciful to someone I didn't know? When was the last time I shared a meal or gave a meal to someone who couldn't give it back to me? (Luke 14:12-14) It's not because I'm selfish. Well, actually, yes, it IS because I'm selfish. As the song says, I'm in my own little world most of the time, and I don't really see or decide NOT to see what's going on around me. Life is so much easier that way, you know? Not quite so messy. Every day can be tied up nice and neatly with a little bow and put on a shelf when I'm done, and I can move on to the next day.

Life isn't that easy.

I've never been an Eddie. I feel very blessed to say that, but I'm also almost ashamed to say it, because I'm sitting here on my leather love seat, in my 3000+ sq ft house, in front of my 48" flat screen TV, with my gas fireplace going (it IS cold outside, after all), typing this on my netbook computer, my (counting in my head) sixth computer if you don't count my phone (and those are the ones that no one else uses). Yeah, I'm very blessed (but I worked hard to get where I am!). My life has had it's ups and downs, but my downs were never as low as Eddie's. And I'm sure there are thousands of Eddie's out there, all over the US, right now, and lots of them are in places much colder than it is here.

The American Dream is to be able to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps and make something of yourself. That's not a bad thing. And having things isn't a bad thing (and I say that not just because I have lots of things). It all comes down to what controls your life. Jesus never told anyone they were wrong for having stuff; he told people they were wrong for having a selfish attitude about their stuff. (Mark 10:17-31)

Eddie has a dream, too, I'm sure. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs illustrates that there are levels of needs that need to be met, and that we must meet the needs of one level before we desire to meet any of the needs on the next level. Eddie is stuck in the first level of the hierarchy for some reason. Why? I have no idea. I could be one of many reasons, but that's not the point. The point is we should be out there helping the Eddies of the world (and I'm pointing my finger more at myself than at anyone else here). There will always be people who need our help (Mark 14:7). Maybe Eddie was at that one place at that specific time so that Trisha could help one of "the least of these".

Trisha, thanks for posting about Eddie. You've tied together a lot of good sermons I've heard lately and put a human face on them.

Eddie: "

On September 29th God showed me exactly how one-dimensional I had gotten, how small my world had become. Here’s how…

That morning my son had a doctor’s appointment at 10 am. Although the appointment itself was about 20 minutes or so, the doctor was running late (as most doctor’s are these days, which btw does not bother me, if they’re late it means they’re giving people the attention and time they need and they’ll do the same for me). The appointment finished up around 11:00. Of course, when we left it was close to lunch, so my son wanted to stop somewhere. The answer was of course, no. He needed to get to school and I needed to get home for my own homework. He finally convinced me to stop so he could use the restroom. We ended up at Wendy’s and while he went to the restroom I got drinks. As I was buckling my seatbelt in the truck a man approached the window, and when I looked up it startled me (actually scared me). From his clothes and demeanor you could tell that he was most likely homeless. I rolled down the window just a bit, already annoyed at this intrusion into my already rushed morning. He looked at me and said, “Can I get something to eat?” I responded that I was sorry but I didn’t have any cash, which was true, I didn’t. He again looked at me and said, “I just want something to eat.” Same response, no cash. We went back and forth like this several times and finally I apologized for not having anything, asked his name and said I would pray for him. His immediate response was to stick his hand out to shake mine and say, “thank you so much, can I pray for you too? What is your name?” I rolled down my window a bit more to shake his hand and as our hands came into contact I was hit with a bolt of lightning. I had to buy this man some lunch. No questions, no more hesitation, just get out and get him something to eat. I was almost in tears at that point, but not quite. You see, the whole time I was saying no I was feeling annoyed and trying to get on my way, but I felt like I should help him. I just didn’t want to. The excuses were running through my head: we’re on a budget, I don’t have time, I don’t have cash, etc.

As I got out of the car Eddie started to thank me, with more gratitude than anyone has ever expressed, at least in my life, it felt like ever in the history of the world. As I asked him what he would like he simply said, “a small chili and a baked potato, they’re only $1.00.” I told him he could get anything he wanted. When we got inside the girl behind the counter looked at us with what can only be called disdain. I introduced her to Eddie and told her that he would like some lunch. She looked at me like I’d just completely lost my mind. When I asked him what he would like, he repeated his simple request, a small chili and a baked potato. When I asked if he’d like a drink I thought he was going to fall over from surprise. He stammered for a minute and asked if he could have a soda. The girl asked him, in an irritated voice, what kind he would like and he paused, finally answering a Dr. Pepper, “if that was ok.” I told him that he could get whatever he wanted. He said that was all, just a chili and baked potato. After I paid for his meal I stood there with him for a minute or two waiting for his food, he smiled at me and thanked me again. He said that he would pray for me. I told him that we were there once a month or so and I would look for him. He smiled and said thank you, then he said what hit me the most, “I usually sleep back there or across the street.” You see, I knew he was homeless. I knew that most likely he was sleeping on the street or possibly in a shelter. At his simple, almost nonchalant, statement of that fact I was floored. The reality hit me like a ton of bricks. He thanked me again, and I thanked him for allowing me to buy him lunch, then hugged him, and walked out the door.

As I walked across the parking lot the tears started. By the time I got to my truck I was sobbing. I was so ashamed of how I had originally responded, and so grateful to God for showing me. There was another blessing also. My son was in the truck during all this. When I took Eddie inside Wendy’s he stayed inside the truck and when I got back he had tears in his eyes too. All the way back to the school we talked. About helping people, about loving people, about showing everyone the love that Jesus has for them, about trusting God and listening to Him when we feel the Holy Spirit pushing us.

I know that in the past I’ve felt good when I’ve handed cash or offered to pray for a homeless person. Like I’m doing good and helping them. That Wednesday Eddie helped me. He gave me one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received. I have no doubt that he was put there by God, to teach me that valuable lesson. Take my eyes off myself, focus on Him, and on loving others as He loves me. Matthew West has a wonderful new song out called, “My Own Little World” and every time I hear it I think about Eddie and what he did for me.

Think about it the next time you see an, “Eddie” out there. It doesn’t matter what they do with what we offer, it’s not ours anyway. It’s God’s, He’s trusted us with it, and He wants us to care for others with all He has given us.

Thanks Eddie!



Anonymous said...

Thanks Phil, your words are so true and right on. Every time I hear that song on the radio it makes me think of this, and remember what God was and is telling me. It's not all about me, we all need love and compassion, just not always the same way. I would venture to say that many times people don't show that they need that, what would it take for someone to let go of their pride and ask for something so simple as a meal? I pray that I never have to find that out, and that I am given the opportunity to show those who are less fortunate that love, compassion, and just a touch to let them know they are valued as much as anyone else.

in Him,