“I Only Have Two Dollars”

IF I LIVE OUT MY BIBLICAL “three-score and ten” (70 years), that means I’m here on earth for about 25,550 days. Now, I’m hoping to manage at least 80 years (29,200 days) or even 90 (32,850).

Well, the other day, I was pondering this bit of reality-check math and realized to my dismay that I’m already into the last 10 percent of at least the three-score-and-ten mark.

And while I have no guarantees (and neither do you) of even one more day, much less a full 70, 80, or 90 years, I began to ponder my remaining time. What do I still hope to get done? What do I need to do to make those things happen? What’s really important?

Later that day, I ran across one of John Wesley’s sayings:

“Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.”

Hmmmm. Time in limited supply. But—do good as long as ever I can? Where do I crowd in all this “do-good-ing” when my own “Do” list is already hopelessly long?

Before the day was out, I had at least part of the answer. Rushing out to do some errands, I stopped at a store and ran in to grab a couple of items.

Returning to my car, I settled in, turned the ignition, and on came the welcome flow of air conditioning. It’s slowly cooling into fall, but where I live, it was still in triple digits.

That’s when I saw her.

A little girl—maybe 8 or 9—was striding toward me with purpose showing in her eyes. I could tell she had every intention of tapping on my car window, so I powered it down, expecting her pitch for some pocket change.

“My Momma would like to give you two dollars,” she said, “if you could drive us back home.”

I followed her pointing arm…and maybe 50 feet away, sitting on a curb, was a young and very pregnant Hispanic mother with four other “stairsteps”—ranging from toddlers to the oldest one standing at my window. Five—and one on the way.

I was truly in a hurry, but it was so hot outside—and the mother looked exhausted. I have an older, mid-90s-vintage car, but it’s roomy. We got everybody in, along with the box containing a new stroller the mother had bought at a discount store nearby and some little bottles of water.

I turned the air conditioning on full blast, and the mama did navigation as I drove two, maybe three miles.

“Did you walk to the store?” I asked.

“Yes,” she replied wearily. I could barely imagine that little tribe walking so far in the heat.

“I only have two dollars,” she said as we approached her older apartment building.

“You keep it,” I said. “I have a few kids myself—and I remember those days when they were little.”

The mother and her kiddos thanked me profusely as they piled out and headed for their unit. Amazingly courteous kids.

I drove away, not proud even one molecule for my act of helping. Instead, the day all began to come together as a light went on inside.

As little as 10 percent of life remaining . . .

Do all the good I can . . .

How many opportunities might I have lost already in the first 90 percent—just by being too rushed or unobservant? And if I were to remember this day, how many opportunities might I still find?

Whether I have only 2,500 days remaining….or 3,500 or 4,500 or one….I’d like to get to the end of the line and realize that on a hot summer day, something happened late in the game to wake me up to at least part of why I was put here in the first place.

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