One morning last spring, I got up early to go on a run. As I was walking down the hall of my apartment complex, I passed a woman. I only noticed her because of her sunken cheekbones underneath pale skin, her sunken eyes staring straight ahead, and her dirty sweats just barely clinging to her bony shoulders. This woman looks sick, I thought. I continued on, not giving her another thought. After all, this was Dallas. It wasn’t uncommon to see many people like this in a given day.
When I returned around 7a.m., I saw her again. She was sitting on the ground, smoking a cigarette outside her apartment door, a couple of beer cans littered around her. “That’s odd,” I thought. I was about to go grab my dog to take him for a walk, so I told God, “If she’s still there after our walk, Lord, then I’ll go talk to her.” Because it’s always a good idea to give God an ultimatum, right?
Sure enough, she was still there upon my return, more beer cans scattered around her feet. Okay, God, let me just put my dog away, and I’ll go talk to her on my out to go run errands. I didn’t. I felt God clearly asking me to do something, but I simply didn’t want to. I was fearful, and I had things I wanted to get done that day. Talking to this woman I didn’t know, assuming that I was the last person she would want to talk to, fearing that she might even get angry with me, all seemed like good reasons not to talk to her.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
— Philippians 2:3–8
She was still there when I came back from running errands. I walked passed her for the third time, avoiding eye contact, as if that would lessen the conviction I felt.
I failed the Lord that day. I was interested in my daily tasks, in the temporality of that day. I couldn’t even stop to invest in the life of my neighbor, because I wasn’t thinking with an eternal mindset. What would have happened had I just brought that woman a blanket or some breakfast? One choice led to multiple bad choices. Choices that did not glorify God, that didn’t reflect his love for his children. Choices that insinuated fear and a lack of faith, as if God didn’t know what He was doing. Maybe that woman would have gotten mad at me for assuming that she needed help, but so what? Should that have stopped me from doing what I so clearly knew God was asking me to do? His ways are high above my understanding. All I know is that nothing bad has ever come from heeding his call.