“God leaves his toughest battles for His strongest soldiers.”
Black handwritten letters on brown cardboard that is leaning against a backpack on the edge of a parking lot.
Looking over, I noticed a family, a man, woman and two dogs, sitting alongside the sign. Two backpacks, each stuffed with their worldly possessions, rest between them. The youngest, a puppy, is pulling on a rope leash.
My traffic light remains red.
The story could end here, as we all see a similar sight though our car windows nearly every day. Only many times, we pretend to not — instead rationalizing our busy life precludes us from absorbing the reality through the glass.
On this day, however, I witnessed something remarkable.
A late-model pickup truck pulled alongside the family. Getting out, the driver spoke to the family with a smile and warmth. Another man, the passenger, jumped out and did the same. A few words are exchanged and the family rose to its feet. The woman grabbed her cane and struggled toward the bed of the pickup — a limp hampering her balance. The man, his right wrist bandaged, reached out to shake the driver’s hand.
The driver and his friend helped lift the two dogs into the bed and quickly began lending a hand to load the oversized backpacks into the back as well.
My light changed to green as the man and woman situated themselves in the back of the bed along with their belongings and two dogs. Smiles and handshakes were shared all around.
Pulling away, I found myself somewhere between embarrassed and proud. Embarrassed I’d become incrementally desensitized to emotionally responding to similar opportunities outside my car window and proud for the two men who were not. I honestly believe God put us in specific situations for a reason — and that red light was meant for me.
Sometimes, during the holiday season, for instance, it is almost fashionable to make an effort to help those in need. In reality, this is something we should build into the fabric of our everyday being. To help only when we hear holiday music is almost superficial and being performed for the wrong reasons.
There are many people down on their luck, as they say. And for others, they contributed to their situation through choices and decisions. But in the end, they are all God’s children. And as I remember, we are all responsible for taking care of God’s children.
Which is why I believe what I witnessed was so remarkable. For me to witness this particular moment through the comfortable insulation of tinted glass windows and leather seats struck home — as if God thought I could use the reminder.
I don’t try to overanalyze these moments in life, as I’ve come to expect an occasional nudge or hint is really a part of God helping keep us grounded. The opportunities are there, but the lesson is up to us alone to recognize.
My only hope is I wasn’t the only one looking out the window.