While driving to pick up dinner from the best sushi place on the planet last night, I saw a middle-aged black woman standing at the bus stop right across the street from the restaurant. She was wearing a long, heavy coat, and she had a small roller suitcase propped beside her. I wondered if I should ask if she needed a ride somewhere but decided to wait until after I picked up the food, since it was almost time for the restaurant to close.
When I stepped outside my car, I heard music coming from across the street. The music was kind of off-key and a cross between praise songs and 80s hits. It was the woman; she was singing to keep herself warm. I stared at her for a moment, totally taken in by the freedom she was apprehending by doing this, and then stepped inside the restaurant.
When I came out, she was still there, and still singing with gusto. I smiled and made my way to the car, wondering again if I should offer to give her a ride wherever she needed to go. I thought again of her heavy coat and the cold air and wondered if a warm cup of coffee wouldn't do her some good as well. I turned the car onto the street, made my way up to the stop sign so I could turn around, and felt incredibly jittery. I'd never done something like this before! I wasn't sure I had the guts to pull it off.
Then I looked ahead and saw, making its way down the street, a big purple bus. I wondered if it was coming to pick her up. I waited at the stop sign to see if it would stop and let her in. It did, and she did. And there went my opportunity to help a stranger in need.
I'm wondering if any one of you has ever chanced into a moment like this -- an opportunity to help someone or simply offer kindness to a face you don't know. Did God show up in the moment? Did He overcome your fear of rejection, ridicule, or being taken advantage of? Did you know it was a moment you had to take? Did you ultimately decide not to take it?
I'm asking this for two reasons. One, I'm surprised by how taken I was by this woman and wanted to somehow connect with her. Was it a moment provided by God? Did I fail by not ensuring I found her before the bus did? And two, as I've shared in comments on two blogs now, Laura's and Al's, I've stumbled upon an idea to do even more of these things with complete strangers and am entirely scared of doing it. Laura and Al have been asking people to think of something they could do with $100 to expand the kingdom of God in their own sphere, and my idea is to buy coffee for 20 different people and offer to share a conversation with them. How do I muster the courage to do it?