One day last week I had a work assignment in Chicago. Nothing unusual about that. The timing meant going into Chicago during the so-called morning rush hour. Driving in downtown Chicago is like running barefoot in a briar patch, painful and regrettable. It would be reasonable to assume that eventually a person would become either tough skinned or numb to the pain of city driving, not for me. I would rather slam the car door on my hand then have to face downtown traffic. Buses will change lanes and run over your vehicle after their signal has flashed once. Taxis do not signal or obey much else about traffic rules. I am convinced that Uber drivers are not even qualified to be Taxi drivers. The right of way is often determined by the driver with the most bravado. To top it off there is always large crowds of people crossing the streets with or without a crosswalk. Oblivious pedestrians will walk into traffic without so much as acknowledging their life was spared by chance or skill of a driver. And who had the brainy idea of constructing a hundred story building and giving it two parking spots?!
Sorry, I had to rant for a moment. On this particular day my travel route had me exit 90/94 E at Lake St. Not a fun exit anytime of day, especially when driving a truck. Lake street runs under the elevated train in Chicago. The road and tracks were built long before modern automobile traffic. It is quite narrow for oversize vehicles. I will often avoid that exit completely. This time it appeared that drivers were being polite. It is a two way stop but several cars would go through the intersection while others waited patiently. It was both amusing and confusing. As I approached the intersection it became apparent that a homeless man had taken it upon himself to direct traffic. That man had no authority over traffic and he did not try to disguise himself. Unbelievably most of the drivers were following his signals. Some were pausing long enough to give him money. Admittedly I was more than happy to take advantage of the situation and get through the intersection as quickly as possible. The stranger that decided to help traffic flow changed my mood for the rest of the day.
I would not suggest anyone takes on the responsibility of directing traffic without being properly trained and given the authority. I wonder what made that homeless man decide to direct traffic. Maybe he had watched the traffic issues at that intersection for years and knew he could ease the problem. Whatever the reason, that day someone did something to help complete strangers with a problem.
You may be familiar with the beggar at the gate in Acts 3. Peter and John went to the Temple one afternoon to take part in the three o’clock prayer service. 2 As they approached the Temple, a man lame from birth was being carried in. Each day he was put beside the Temple gate, the one called the Beautiful Gate, so he could beg from the people going into the Temple. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for some money. 4 Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. 6 But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” 7 Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened. 8 He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them. 9 All the people saw him walking and heard him praising God. 10 When they realized he was the lame beggar they had seen so often at the Beautiful Gate, they were absolutely astounded! 11 They all rushed out in amazement to Solomon’s Colonnade, where the man was holding tightly to Peter and John.
Have you noticed this beggar was placed there daily? Chances are Peter and John walked by this man several times before. It is even possible that Jesus had walked by this man on the way into the Temple. On this particular day Peter took notice of a problem and knew exactly what to do. With authority given him by Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit the lame man was healed.
Is there a situation you have seen for years that you can help with? An elderly neighbor in need of assistance or just conversation. A troubled youth in need of direction. A struggling ministry at church. Maybe you know someone that needs help learning some basic life skills such as doing laundry or balancing a check book. We all have something to offer, just ask God to show you what He wants you to help with.
Rev. Burt Schwab