Once when I was in college a friend asked me to visit her in DC. The cost of the bus ticket from Towson, Maryland to Washington was exactly $5. Despite the fact I didn't have a nickel to my name, let alone a five bucks I agreed to visit her that weekend.
You wouldn't think five dollars was much to sweat, and in the grand scheme of things it wasn't. I could have borrowed it from someone (in which case I'd have to pay it back). I could have asked my mother for it (in which case I would have to endure the maternal grilling). I could have earned it (in which case I would have had a job, which I didn't).
Or I could have prayed for it. This is the option I chose. Then I put the question of how I was going to find the fare in less than a week out of my mind and went about my business as a student.
A few days later I was going to lunch at the school's cafeteria. Two girls were walking ahead of me. Suddenly I saw a five dollar floor flutter to the ground at their feet. At least it seem to be coming from their feet. I picked it up and called out to them, "Hey, you dropped your..." But they were long gone. I sensed an opportunity. I could claim this as my answer to prayer and scurry on into the lunch line. Or I could follow the girls (who were passing by the cafeteria) and return the money.
I chose to follow the girls back to their dorm a few minutes away. Since I was behind them a little bit by the time I reached them they were in their room. I knocked on the door. One of them answered, a girl with dark hair whom I'd not met before.
"Excuse me," I said, "you dropped this back by the cafeteria. You or your roommate." I waved the money in the air.
"No, I didn't," she replied. "Hey, Anna (I made that up, I don't remember either of their names)," she called over her shoulder, "did you lose some money?" After a moment of silence the answer came back negative. "Nope, it's not ours! Sorry!" And with that she shut the door on me.
So I got my answer to prayer, and believe me...the answer wasn't the five dollars. The answer was a sort of combo of "God loves you, Rose. You are not alone" and the chorus from one of my favorite Stones songs:
You can't always get what you want
you can't always get what you want
you can't always get what you want
but if you try sometimes you just might find
you get what you need.
You might think praying is a little too lazy to qualify as trying, but to a woman who has lost her job, or a man who is homeless and mentally ill, or a kid, say who was so abused at home growing up the thought of trusting in a loving God is as foreign as trusting a mother for five bucks...well, trust me, praying isn't all that lazy. Sometimes finding the courage to say, "help me" is like lifting a two ton weight.
I can't imagine how many silent prayers are out there right now for just a little help. Just enough to prime the pump of hope. Which is why I've decided to become a Kindness Investor for the week of April 10-16 right here in Chicago. A Kindness Investor is someone who follows in the footsteps of Reed Sandridge who for 365 days (200 of which were jobless) gave $10 a day to a total stranger and then blogged about it at The Year of Giving. Reed says anyone can do this, and I'm inclined to agree. I mean, how hard can it be for a child of the sixties? It's sort of like panhandling in reverse.
I am sooooooooo looking forward to being someone's answer to prayer! I hope you'll follow my progress that week as I post my giving adventures on Reed's blog. I'll send you friendly reminders, or maybe you'll just go ahead and start following his blog right now, or maybe you'll go here and like his page. Or maybe you'll just cut to the chase and be a Kindness Investor yourself.
Because you know it's weird to walk up to seven total strangers and hand away money. But you know what's weirder? Thinking money makes you rich.