“I got an unexpected phone call today asking me to go and help someone out, and I was pleased because I was at a loose end and it was good to have something to do with my morning.”
This obviously is a sentence I have NEVER uttered. Because really, I’m never at a loose end, are you? Bored yes, but not actually lacking in things to do.
I’ve been thinking lately about being a good friend, and about helping people in need, and being servant-hearted. In theory I’m well up for it, but when it actually happens, if it’s unexpected, I find it somewhat stressful.
Usually the needs that crop up day-to-day come in the form of what I see as interruptions. They interrupt the plans I had for that day or week. It might be that my plan was to have a nap, or it might be that I was about to do something I really need to do, like cook a meal or have a shower. And the interruption might be small, such as a small child falling over and needing a kiss, or it might be bigger, such as a friend needing to go to hospital. And my response to these interruptions to my own agenda vary, depending on how proud and control-freaky I am feeling.
Take this morning for example. My husband went to work and forgot his clothes (unless you count the clothes he’d cycled to work in, which weren’t really appropriate meeting attire). I drove his clothes to his office, which is 2.6 miles away, so of course took 50 minutes altogether. That was fine by me, but it certainly wasn’t what I’d planned to do, nor did it feel a very noble use of time. (The words, ‘That’s an hour of my life I’m not getting back’ did cross my mind.) Which is often the way with real life.
You know the story of the Good Samaritan? I expect so. (You can read the whole story here.) Here’s the bit where the Samaritan finds the Jew on the ground:
33 But a Samaritan came to the place where the man was. When he saw the man, he felt sorry for him. 34 He went to him, poured olive oil and wine on his wounds and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey. He brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two silver coins. He gave them to the owner of the inn. ‘Take care of him,’ he said. ‘When I return, I will pay you back for any extra expense you may have.’ (Luke 10)
I wonder where the Samaritan was going? It’s not a true story so there’s no point wasting time wondering, but I expect he had somewhere to be, rather than just wandering aimlessly, making himself available for people who’d been mugged. And the other two blokes, the ones who ignored the man, they might have had really important stuff to be doing. Last minute Christmas shopping, that sort of thing.
But the Lord gives us opportunities to show mercy to people, and when we get those, we should be glad to take them. When I’m “inconvenienced” by someone else’s needs, I need to see that as the Lord’s plan for my day, and thank him for it. CS Lewis said this:
“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own,’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life — the life God is sending one day by day.”
The busier I am, the more in danger I am of feeling put out by ‘interruptions.’ What I need is to take a step back, get over myself and realise that God is sending me things to do, and sometimes they’re not on my list. And Christmas is a very busy time, so I’m more likely to be irritated by these ‘interruptions’ (i.e. more likely to resent God’s plan for my day) than usual. That’s not something I want to do.
So I’ll write my lists, but I’ll pray that God would overrule as he so wishes.
I could go on and on about this, flesh it out a bit, but it’s advent so I’m a bit busy and you get the picture I’m sure…
As always, please do leave a comment if you’d like to – click on the speech bubble at the top of the post.