evening clouds billowed higher as if they were contemplating a storm.
Rain would be welcome, as the 90 degree temperatures sucked the
moisture from all living things—me included. I shut the pages of the
book I was reading while sprawled on a chaise lounge and gave my
attention to the sky. So perfect. So beautiful.
I couldn’t help but pray.
Praise. Thank you for all you give me, Lord. Use me. Let me
help You by giving something back.
I rarely take walks in the
evening. I am a morning person and take my walks in the early
a.m.—before most of the world is awake (including myself, if I’m
totally honest). But that night the clouds and the pink of the sunset
called to me.
I laced my walking shoes and
clipped on my headphones. And though I always head north, on this
night, I headed south—to better see the sunset in the west. Or so I
After three blocks I neared the
bottom of the hill where my street intersects another. There, I saw a
man on the corner across the street, holding a piece of paper. It was
dusk and his features were hazy, but I could see he was wearing white
tennis shorts and a white polo shirt. He looked at me. Did he say
I ignored my plan to turn right
and turned left to cross the street toward him. I nudged my headphones
off my ears so I could hear him if he was saying
something. I said “Hello” to cover my curiosity with normal courtesy.
“Is this Hayes Street?” he
asked, pointing up the street from where I’d come.
Ah, so that’s it; he
“That’s Hayes,” I said,
continuing to walk, but turning toward him as I passed.
The man folded the paper,
mumbling. “I’m legally blind and I’m trying to find my son. I can’t see
the street signs.”
I nodded. “Yes, that’s Hayes.” I
continued on my walk.
After going half a block, I
stopped and looked back. What am I doing? A man who is
legally blind asks for my help and I point him in the right direction
and leave him to it?
a sudden urgency, I backtracked, turning north on Hayes, hoping to
catch up with him and be available if he needed more help. With my
half-block diversion, he should have been a block ahead of me.
The sunset was past its prime,
the shadows closing in. I shut off the music, feeling the need to
concentrate in my efforts to find him, to right the wrong I’d done.
he is, up to the
left. A few more steps revealed my “man” was a mailbox. I
quickened my pace. He shouldn’t be so far ahead . . .
I heard some boys playing
basketball in a driveway. His son? I hurried toward the sound, hoping
to see the father waiting for the last few baskets before heading home.
My guilt would be relieved.
Five boys. No adults. He wasn’t
My throat tightened. Tears
threatened. Oh, Lord, I’m so sorry. Why didn’t I stop and
offer to help him? Why did I selfishly keep walking? I
searched the street ahead, hoping to spot the glow of the white shorts
and shirt as he wandered in the dark. Please, God, if he
still needs help, let me find him. Give me another chance to help.
Please forgive me.
Too soon I was home. I stopped
in my driveway and scanned the street. Right and left. Up and down.
There was no man. He had disappeared . . . as if he’d never existed.
I sat on the front steps a long
time. Watching for the man. Praying for the man. And praying for
myself. An hour earlier I’d asked God to use me. Within minutes, He’d
answered my prayer. And within minutes, I’d let Him down.
As the clouds rumbled in the
distance, promising relief from summer’s burden of heat, I asked God
for relief from my own personal burden of guilt.
I asked Him, and by His mercy
would receive another chance.
But not today. Not today.