Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Yes Lord, But ...

To another (Jesus) said: “Follow me,” but he said: “Lord,
let me first go and bury my father.” 
- Lk 9:59
It was a very hot afternoon at the food distribution warehouse last week.  I was packing items when a friend told me that a frail elderly woman had walked a mile in the day’s heat to pick up some food.  Her neighbors refused to give her a ride because she and her trailer were known to be infested with bedbugs and lice.  “Would you give her a ride back home?” I was asked.  I hesitated, and said: “Let me check something,” as I called a friend whose charity had dealt with bug problems in the past.  I wanted to know how contagious the bugs likely were.  My friend didn’t answer, and shortly I was told: “That’s okay; we got someone else to give her a ride home.”
That night I read that gospel of Luke (above), where when the Lord called, the man answered: “Yes Lord, but …”  And I realized that was the answer I too had given to the Lord’s call.  And so, I conceived a gesture to alleviate my guilt: I would suggest to the food distribution ministry that in the future they offer a delivery service, for people who couldn’t pick up needed food for one reason or another, and I would volunteer to be a deliverer of that food.
I felt still a bit guilty, but my conscience seemed satisfied.
A couple of days later, I picked up a friend and while driving related the story of the bug-infested woman to her.  I was about to get into my delivery plan for the future when my friend put her hand on my arm to stop my talking:
“You need to help her,” she said.
I was stunned for a moment.  Duh!  Of course, I needed to help her, but why wasn’t that my initial reaction?  Why was my immediate reaction one of concern over how this woman’s plight would affect me, and my plans, my safety, and my comfort?  My solution was like the actions of a lifeguard, who seeing a drowning person going down for the third time, races out with his boat, and then hands the drowning person a life vest: “Here, this’ll help.”  It’s a convenient solution but not one which solves the heart of the problem.
“You need to help her.”
Neither the lifeguard nor I forgot the commitments we had made, but it seems we had made those commitments with our head, not our heart.
I am blessed with an analytical mind.  I develop solutions to problems.  When earlier in my life I made a commitment to Ford Motor Company, I solved problems to the Company’s betterment.  So, when I make a commitment to God, I need to solve problems to His benefit --- His love of His children.  In neither case, should my own betterment be my first consideration.
When I was asked about the bug-infested woman needing a ride, my analytical mind should have felt my heart and said: “The real problem isn’t the woman needing a ride, but WHY she needed the ride.”  Finding a solution to eliminating her infestation problem should have quickly risen as a priority in my mind, not the stopgap delivery solution I conceived (btw, I later found out that the food distribution ministry already offered a food delivery service).  The situation I faced was no different than the parable of the rich man, who was also asked to follow Jesus, but he couldn’t give away his money.  I too hesitated to give away my riches, which for me are my comfort, and my satisfaction that I have things figured out: This is how they should be; this is how I should live.  And it appears I am reluctant to change, even when challenged by God: “You must help her.”
It's so easy to say “Yes, but …,” as I was reminded again this week.

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