Taken For a Ride

Earlier this evening, I took a prescription in to the pharmacy. After standing in line for an unusual amount of time, I started to pay attention to the customer in line in front of me. Specifically, I began to tune in to his non-stop monologue to the pharmacy technician, because I heard him mention “my pastor”, and something about it sounded familiar. It only took about 15 seconds to realize that this man had been in my office two weeks ago weaving a story about the hopelessness of his situation, and how he longed to get down to Southern Illinois where he aunt had offered him a place to live – if only he had the money for gas to get there. I won’t tell you the rest of his story, but I will tell you that I had fallen for it: I took him to the gas station and got him a gas card so that he could fill the tank on his way south. Now, here he was, telling the technician (whose face betrayed how tired she was of hearing the Neverending Story) how “his Pastor” had gotten him this gift card, and told him to buy what he needed to, but that above all he needed to get gas for his car, but he was going to get this prescription first, and he’d find another way to get gas for his car. When he finished his story, he turned around and ran right into me – and gave no evidence that he recognized me.
So, what have I been feeling? Irritated that I got taken. Even more so because I use the fund I have access to for emergency help situations, and it never has enough money to help all the people who come to us. I know that I am capable of being tricked, but I’d rather not think about it too much. Eventually, I got angry, because I felt like a fool. This guy’s act was so obviously contrived here in the store; why wasn’t it more obvious in my office? But where I finally ended up was sad. Here’s a guy who lives a lie: he’s clearly made a side job of duping churches and other people. I’m not sure what has to happen to a guy like that to actually see God for the generous giver he is.
Of course, the answer is: only grace.

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