Tuesday, July 13, 2004

God's Potential In Us

Last Wednesday, I was on my way home from 24 Hour Fitness. Walking down Market towards Van Ness in front of Safeway, I noticed one of those green French pay toilets up ahead with the door wide open. From a distance, it looked as though a homeless person had placed some belongings on the floor. I could see people looking in and passing by as I approached. The closer and closer I got, the more and more the baggage began taking on the form of a body.

Finally, I arrived at the door and in plain view was an unconscious woman who looked like she had collapsed. There was a crushed Yoplait yogurt on the floor next to her along with a box of candies wrapped in clear plastic. I thought it may be a diabetic coma. I said to myself, she couldn’t be homeless. She had to pay to get in here. But, it didn’t really make a difference if she was homeless or not. I’m obligated by God to help her. I almost walked past, but I knew in my heart that God would not see it any other way. I had to stay with her.

I checked her pulse and breathing and dialed 911. The emergency operator answered and I stated my location. I went through all the standard questions, which took a few minutes, and then I began hearing the sirens in the distance. I told the gentleman on the phone that the paramedics had arrived and hung up. The fire truck turned left off Church up Market. They were going the wrong way! OK. How hard is it to find the green kiosk in front of Safeway on Market? The devil…figures. A woman with some bags of groceries stopped and offered to help me. Meanwhile, the girl is lying motionless, but she is still breathing. I can see her rapid heartbeat pulsing through the vein in her neck.

We repositioned the girl on her back. I had already checked for items in her mouth and I did my best to elevate her neck and clear her airway while on the phone with 911, but now I had to call dispatch a second time so the paramedics could be redirected to my location. Well, the second operator couldn't find any record of my first call and proceeded to take me through all the same questions the first operator asked me. I just got impatient and gave him a quick assessment of the victim and told him to get on the horn and give the paramedics my location again. So, here come the sirens. The woman and I are looking around but we can't see any paramedics anywhere. They end up in the Safeway parking lot and we have to jump up and down from behind these tall bushes in order from them to see us from the street.

Help finally arrives and begins working on the girl. I'm not sure what the problem is yet, but I'm listening intently to the conversation between them. There are around six paramedics, one fire truck and an ambulance. What I thought was a SF police officer ends up being a security guard who's contracting for Safeway. He recognizes the girl and calls her "a regular".

I said, "What?" He says, "Yeah, she's a heroin addict."

I was thinking, so! She's still a person! "After this, she might clean herself up and start helping others with the same problem."

"Yeah. That's true."


The girl is still unconscious. They give her a shot, put on an oxygen mask and load her in the ambulance. I continue to walk home, thankful, but in shock.

God never rest. He amazes me. We are the body of Christ. There is always an opportunity to serve Him even in our limited capacity.

If someone looks homeless, the person must be homeless, and if they’re homeless, why help them? Because...we are all loved by God and we all have "God's Potential". Not the potential the way the world sees it, but the potential that God put in us. We need to step out of the safe and comfortable borders we’ve set for ourselves and begin to let God's potential in us affect the world and touch the lives of everyone.

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