“A beggar’s wealth is seldom measured by the number of coins in the palm.”
A man was parked in a wheelchair just outside the entrance of a restaurant where I was having dinner recently. As I came out the door, he turned his chair toward me and politely said, “Excuse me. But do you happen to have any coins to spare? I’m just trying to get a little soup or something.” Like many American these days, I rarely have cash in my wallet so without even checking I quietly replied, “I’m sorry but I don’t have anything.” As I continued toward my car, I offered him my very best sympathetic smile – my mind already contemplating the next destination on my shopping route.
Suddenly I remembered that I happened to have some spare change in my wallet so I began frantically digging. When I looked up I realized the man had starting to roll away. I tossed up a quick prayer, “Oh please, God, don’t let him leave.” His wheelchair came to a slow stop on the other side of the restaurant doorway then spun around to face the parking lot.
I approached him and offered the coins from my hand all while apologetically explaining that it wasn’t much, but it was all I could give. He looked genuinely surprised at my return and with humble gratitude, thanked me for my meager gesture.
I couldn’t help but contemplate his life. I wanted to know more about him – how he got there; what his circumstances were; where his family was; why he was begging for coins. I wondered if his life would ever change or if he would spend the rest of it at the entrance of beautiful doors, begging.
As I pondered the life of this stranger, God brought to my mind the story of a man in the book of Acts, chapter 3, who begged for coins but instead was given a life-altering gift.
Crippled from birth, this man was carried every day and left outside the temple courts at a gate called Beautiful. As people entered the gate for a time of prayer they would be confronted with his presence. It must have been a stunning contrast for the temple goers to see this man day after day begging for mere scraps to satiate his perpetual hunger while they entered gate Beautiful for an intimate time of worship with God. Little did anyone suspect, his life was about to radically change for the better.
The disciples, Peter and John, had traveled to the temple that day for a time of afternoon prayer. The man begged them for money and even expected to get something from them. Instead, Peter spoke with all the authority given to him through his faith in God and said to the man, “…In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” With their help, the man stood on his feet for the first time in his life and not only began walking but was jumping and praising God! He thought he would get a few coins to exchange for something which would only last a moment. Instead, he received the gift of a life of freedom all because two men took the time to notice and introduce him to the life altering, healing power of Jesus.
This single act was a faith building moment for everyone around since they all knew of this man’s plight. What a sight it must have been to watch this man’s life change in an instant and so radically. But our God is a radical God after all…isn’t He?
I think often about the man I saw in front of the restaurant. How I wish I would have taken more time to have a conversation with him…to let him know how much he is loved…to connect with his humanity and not just provide him with coins to exchange for something which only lasts a moment. I wish I would have taken a brief moment to introduce him to the One who can set him on his feet again. Perhaps not in the physical sense – but where it counts the most – in the spiritual, emotional and relational sense.
I think about my own life. How many times have I sat just outside the temple courts at gate Beautiful, begging, paralyzed by this life? How often was I carried there by those who didn’t know what else to do except gently place me at the entrance and hope for the best while they entered in for a time of intimate worship with God? How often have I held out my hands for mere coins when God wants to offer me things which will bring me jumping to my feet and praising His name?
“Forgive me, Lord, for being such a beggar when life is hard. Help me to rise up on my feet and receive the gift of healing you have for me. And may I be a witness always to those who I find along the way sitting at the entrance to your gate Beautiful. ~ Amen”