I was driving up the street one day recently. It was a cold, windy, winter day. Up ahead I saw a little white haired man shuffling slowly along the sidewalk. His white hair and labored steps caused me to think it was my neighbor Joe. Joe and his wife live across the street from us. Since his fall and broken hip, we have been summons many times by his wife Anna, to help her lift him off the floor when he falls.
I wondered if that could be Joe, and asked,"Why on earth would he be trying to take a walk on such a bitterly cold day?" But, as my van moved closer to this fellow on the sidewalk, I realized it wasn't him. I looked at him as I sat at a red light. It was the day before Christmas and he had his arms full of bags. No doubt he contribution to Christmas. His hands and face were red from the cold air. He only had a thin jacket on and no hat upon his head. I worried that as slow as he shuffled, he'd freeze before he got home. But it wasn't Joe,it was a stranger.
So,as the light turned red, I turned right instead of going straight to my own destination. I leaned across my seat and open the passenger door. " Excuse me Sir, can I take you home?"
He eyes lit up, and I got out of the van and helped into the passengers seat. It was a short ride, but a long walk for him. In those few short minutes, he told me about his grandchildren and how they would come to see him on Christmas day with his new great-grandson, and he had to go out and buy him a gift. I helped him into his door and wished him,"Merry Christmas."
As I continued on my way, I wondered how many times people like this get passed by. Had I been in a hurry, would I have not stopped? This is our Father's world and we are all gatekeepers and watchmen here. The weak,vunerable, and the frail should never be passed by.
But how often they are. In our rush to get through our schedule each day, we often do not even notice those who wonder in the slow lane of life. Those that would brighten up at a friendly hello or smile.
That little,white haired man stayed in my mind all day. I thought of other people. The kid picked on school. The neighbor no one liked. The man in church that sat in the back row that no one talked to. Those people should never be left on their own when God's people are around. We should say to ourselves, " Not on my watch!"
Can you remember a time, perhaps in school when there was a painfully embarrassing moment? Can you remember wishing that there was just one person who would extend a sympathetic hand? Or perhaps later in life, a burden so heavy and no one seemed to notice the anguish on your face?
When that kid in school is being teased or left out, we should never enter in to that teasing. Or when that neighbor or strange looking fellow in church is ignored. More than that, we should never be the silent observer. Our kind words might be the life boat for a drowning soul.
not on my watch...
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