There’s a new guy who’s been coming to my “office” (read: Starbucks). He’s maybe 45 years old, chubby, with white blond hair. He wears track shorts every day rain, shine, or 50 degrees. He sits in the same chair looking for
his next victim someone to talk to.
I’ve watched him, desperately latching onto anyone who will catch his eye. If someone acknowledges him, however briefly, it’s all over. He will stick to them like a factory tag you forgot to remove from your jeans, trying to make conversation. My judge-y mcjudgerson self thinks he might as well have “EMOTIONALLY NEEDY” written across his forehead.
And so, I’m careful to avert my eyes so I don’t get sucked into his vortex of chattiness. I don’t need this. I don’t need him interrupting my time with JESUS.
And then Jesus tells me a story about another guy in need by the side of the road, and a priest and a Levite who avert their eyes, crossing to the other side in order not to be inconvenienced by the messiness of this stranger’s life.
But then, the least likely suspect, (maybe it would be a white supremacist stopping to help an African American today), draws near and cares for the man’s needs. Jesus commends him as the loving neighbor.
I sigh and think “Ok, ok, Lord. I get your point.”
I go to the counter and ask my baristas, “What do you know about the guy who’s been coming in lately? What’s his story?”
“He says he got kicked out of another coffee shop, but he’s trying to be good and he likes it here. He’s got PTSD.”
I pay for his next day’s drink anonymously, feeling self-righteous. I’ve done my “Good Samaritan” thing, ready to move on. But Jesus isn’t done with me yet.
I want to turn away, but Jesus turns towards.
I sense Him gently asking: “Did the Samaritan throw a CVS gift card across the road from a safe distance and let the needy guy buy his own bandages? Is a free drink the only thing this guy needs to feel loved and seen? Have you never been needy or lonely?”
Jesus can be so persistent and inconvenient can’t He??
So this morning I say a quick prayer and brace myself as I walk into Starbucks. I look needy guy straight in the eye, smile, and say “Good morning! I’ve been seeing you here a lot lately. What’s your name?”