More apologies for a late post — it seems life is conspiring against me right now to keep me from writing when I need to be.
Most of us have this story memorized — the crippled beggar at the Gate Beautiful who asked Peter and John for a handout and got healed instead.
Peter’s response to him is a verse that I learned by heart in Sunday School:
6 Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. (Acts 3:6, KJV)
The temple beggar brings to mind an image of the poor souls we see standing by the highway on-ramps in big cities, holding signs that read “Will work for food”, or “Homeless vet, please help”. And most of us, I dare say, have used that verse in our reaction to those who panhandle, especially when our own pocketbook is empty.
Silver and gold have I none, indeed.
One day when I was working in downtown Phoenix, I was approached on my way to lunch by a homeless man who asked if I had a few dollars to spare for him to get something to eat. I had a bit of time, and not a lot of extra money, so I offered for him to walk with me to Taco Bell and I’d buy him an inexpensive but filling lunch. A couple of bean burritos, after all, are enough to stuff most people.
While we sat in the crowded fast food establishment, he told me his story, much like many others. He had a family, but his poor choices had estranged them from him, and he had no idea now how to locate his adult daughter who when he last heard, was living in the area. He was trying, he said, to turn his life around, but was finding it difficult.
Such as I have give I thee….
I listened to him and empathized, then shared with him my faith, and a message of hope. I prayed for him before I walked back to work. And I have no idea what has happened in his life since, but I knew without a doubt that I had done what God wanted me to do that day.
But beyond the practical modern parallel of this story in how we can respond to those we encounter who have physical needs, there’s something more that’s jumping out at me today from this verse.
The beggar asked Peter and John for money. What he wanted, and all he could have expected, was that they would give him a few coins. Instead, he got his life completely changed.
Sometimes what we’re asking for, and what we want, isn’t what we need, or what God intends to give us.