Devotion: Bagels and Bargains

My wife sent me on an errand: I was to grab a dozen bagels. With teenage triplet boys that request comes with a spreadsheet for how many chocolate chip, cinnamon crunch, asiago and whole wheat (none!) bagels we need. After placing her order of 12, the bagel guy informed me that actually I got a 13th bagel. So I grabbed another, tossed it in the bag and began to head home.

As I headed outside, I noticed a homeless man sitting on a bench. I swung out past him, but had the strong sensation that he was gonna hit me up for the bagels when I hear him shout “Hey man, hey man over here, come here, come here.” I was in an awkward situation. I had been sent by my wife to bring home a dozen bagels, but now I am being confronted by a man who wants these bagels.

Then realized God’s grace — I had been given that 13th bagel. I could show compassion to this guy and still return with the requested bagels to my family. Two birds–one stone.

So I dropped the full bag of bagels into my car, grabbed the thirteenth and headed towards the man. Proud of the small act of compassion I was able to demonstrate, I said “Here you go man, you can have this.”

He looked up at me with contempt, however, and said, “Nah man, I want money.” Standing directly in front of him with the extended bagel, I simply repeated my offer. He declined a second and a third time. Our encounter was getting tense and awkward, so I turned and walked away.

How much am I like that man? How often are my demands upon God like this man’s demandedness toward me? He wanted money, I offered a bagel. Had he only accepted the bagel it was very likely money would have followed.

Yet why in that moment wasn’t I willing to give him what he was asking for? Why was I only willing to give out of my abundance?

Both of us left unsatisfied.

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