I am currently doing my best to let go control over my life and allow the Holy Spirit to guide me. This is not as easy as it may sound–even when I believe I have truly let go, I impose my own objectives on my actions and convince myself that what I want is God’s will and not mine.
However, the Lord knows me so well (better than I know myself) that He knows what I’m going to do before I actually do it, and therefore factors in my mishaps and lapses in judgment.
What happened to me today is a perfect example of how beautifully the Holy Spirit can orchestrate life to not only ensure I am in the right place at the right time, but also in the right frame of mind to take on the task God gives me.
I was headed for New York City to meet friends before seeing a show on Broadway on the hottest day of the year so far. The city was on high alert, due to extremely high temperatures in the forecast. Normally when I visit New York City, I leave early so I can walk the streets the way I did while living there. This time I chose to take a later bus because it wouldn’t have been safe to be outside in the heat as long as usual. This seemingly minor alteration in plan led me to a different path, literally and figuratively.
The Lord led me down a side street I was unfamiliar with and, unlike most New York streets, it was almost deserted. As I was walking, a man lying on the ground caught my attention. At first glance he appeared to be the “typical” homeless person one sees so often on the streets, but as I came closer, something about him struck me as not typical. He looked up and reached out his hand. He didn’t say anything; I don’t think he was even looking directly at me. He was no doubt dehydrated and hallucinating.
I’m embarrassed to admit I don’t pay as much attention to the homeless as I should, perhaps because I accept the lie that I’m not in a position to help them. The Lord has been working with me to overcome this lie and putting me in this situation was another step toward that aim.
As I walked past this man, I realized there was no one else around. No one would see him or help him; I was the only one who could. A sense of urgency compelled me to “find some water,” as a voice inside me said. I went into a nearby store and bought a bottle of overpriced water without hesitation. As I brought it back to the man, I was relieved to see him up and moving around, but as I approached, he collapsed again.
“Excuse me, sir,” I began timidly, “but would you like some water?” He nodded and took the bottle from my hand. I asked if there was anything else I could do for him, and he said he could use some food. Of course, I had none so I left him again.
I felt as though I needed to keep him conscious, so I found a grocery store and bought some fruit, protein bars, and a much larger bottle of water. The urgency inside me did not ease up as I hurried back to the man, but I was comforted to notice that the street was becoming busier. Hopefully the food and water I gave him would sustain him till someone else could do more for him, maybe even get him off the streets.
When I gave him the groceries, I asked for his name. He said it was “B”, short for Benny, but he wanted to be called “B.” I told him I would pray for him, and suddenly remembered I had some Miraculous Medals in my backpack. I gave him one; I don’t think he knew what it was, but I left it with him, having faith that the Blessed Mother and her Son would protect him and do what I could not for him. “B” told me he would be 66 in October and seemed very proud of that. I walked away, praying he would survive until his 66th birthday.
So many insignificant factors led me to taking the road to “B” as well as putting me in the right mindset to do what I did when I found him. I would never have remembered those medals if I hadn’t given one to a friend a few weeks ago. More importantly, I would never have had the courage to reach out and help him if I hadn’t heard a similar story from one of my role models the previous weekend. God is guiding me even as I continue to resist Him. The past week was full of several failures on my part, which had created a defeated mentality in me. I was actively asking the Lord’s forgiveness for not having more faith in Him when I met “B.”