Am I Responsible?

Am I Responsible?

by Susan Hitchman

Wikipedia picture

A twinge of conscience pricked my heart as I walked past the older woman. The street was thronging with people coming and going from Seattle’s Pike Street Market, and panhandlers were everywhere. But as I stepped past her and stood with my family waiting for the crosswalk light to turn, I saw her wearily rest her head against the light pole.

Was it a ploy?

The other panhandlers were bold, flaunting cardboard signs linking love for God with supporting their marijuana habits. It was easier walking past them than her. But as our walk light lit up, I stepped out and crossed the street with my family. I was a visitor to Seattle.

Was I responsible?

The next morning as I sat reading my Bible and praying in a quiet corner of the hotel lobby, the picture of the street woman kept filling my mind. I saw myself doing what I should have done, my arm reaching across her shoulders as I simply asked, “Are you O.K?” I was looking into her eyes, granting her the dignity of comfort in human suffering.

I was overwhelmed with the awareness of my selfishness.

As I inwardly moaned in repentance, I asked for forgiveness. That opportunity to show God’s love to an aching heart was gone. Would God’s mercy grant me another opportunity to do it right?

The young King Josiah was in a predicament not unlike mine. Upon hearing the recently discovered ‘Book of the Law’ read to him, he too was overwhelmed with an awareness of sin. Visions of the idolatries and cruelties his kingly forbears had committed rose in his mind.  He was more expressive than me, tearing his robes and weeping, taking steps to inquire through a prophetess the LORD’s verdict.

In this story we’re given an incredible glimpse of God’s perspective. We’re told that God observed that Josiah’s “heart was responsive and (he) humbled (him)self before the LORD”.

“Because you…wept in my presence, I have heard you”, God declares (2 Kings 22:19, NIV).

We’re not told that Josiah had actually prayed in so many words, yet God heard him. Josiah had wept in remorse and repentance. He had been responsive to God’s Spirit revealing Himself and His commands through His Word. He had humbled himself and took steps to repair the situation.

Perhaps you too have wept a tear or two over your awareness of failings in your life. Take heart. That is one form of prayer. If your heart is responsive to His convicting Word and you humble yourself in repentance, there is great hope. God has heard you and is willing to help you turn your tears into actions of obedience.

“Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5, NIV).

Go ahead and cry; it speaks volumes to God.


Go ahead and cry; it speaks volumes to God. (tweet this)

I was overwhelmed with the awareness of my selfishness. (tweet this)

Sue Hitchman

Susan Hitchman

Sue  seeks to integrate the adventure of following Christ with her roles as wife, mother of five, co-leader of a women’s Bible study group and parent prayer group, and retreat speaker.  She is a member of The Word Guild and NCWA. Outdoor pursuits (cycling, gardening, hiking, & kayaking) remind her of God’s creative bent and constant presence. She writes to encourage others in their journey of faith in God.  Visit her blog at: Word Made Flesh



  1. It was so natural for my father to grab coins from his pocket and give them to the homeless beggar on the streets of downtown Los Angeles. So much has questioned whether we should give people money or nit because we don’t know what they will use it for. I think I’d prefer to be like my a Dad and compassionately give to the one in need. God will take care of the rest. I want to be more proactive. Thank you for bringing this to my attention again!

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