I saw him sitting there- an illegal panhandler as indicated by the signs clearly posted nearby. I smiled at him. “There’s Jesus,” I thought, and 7 baht was the figure that jumped into my mind. “That’s my bus fare. No problem. I can wait for the free bus.” As I approached him, a look of anticipation crossed his face as I reached for my wallet. I hated how that made me feel- like a rich foreigner. Knowing his cup was already lined at the bottom with 1 and 2 baht coins, I ignored the 7 baht figure in mind and fingered in my coin pocket for a 5 baht coin. Comparison. 5 baht is more than 2. “If a man asks you to go one mile, go with him two,” crossed my mind, but I didn’t pay much attention. I dropped the 5 baht coin into his cup. His eyes went down to the cup to see what I gave, and without another word- without waiting to meet his gaze and extend a spoken blessing- I walked away. Immediate regret. “Lord, I’m sorry. Why did I do that? I didn’t treat him like a person.” The next thought, “Neither did he. He treated you like a bank.” The thought from God that followed, “I know that feeling.”
My heart sank. God feels this nasty feeling, too? “Oh, God. I’m sorry!” We treat Him like a bank all the time. Asking for this and that- making our deposits and expecting withdrawals- asking for loans- always about the exchange and never about relationship… I do that all the time. “Lord, forgive me.”
I think of friends who have become offended when God hasn’t been the kind of bank manager they would have liked. They asked Him for something, and He met their need in another way. “Sometimes love means giving what is needed instead of what is asked,” I hear the quiet thought.
We don’t need a banker. We don’t need a faceless God who caters to our requests like a public relations manager. We need a Father who knows our needs- who advises us, teaches us, helps us grow- a kind, relational Father who is dependable and loves us so much that He does whatever it takes to lead us into maturity… even at the risk of disappointing or offending us.
And so, today, through this simple, messy human interaction, Father God corrects me and reminds me who He is. He doesn’t chastise me for not giving the 7 baht, but He takes the opportunity of my open heart to push deeper and address a misconception that sometimes keeps me from trusting His hand in my life.
If anything in my conversation with God this morning strikes a chord in your heart, why don’t you mention that to God and pay attention for He wants to teach you. 🙂