Hey everybody! How are all y’all? Doing well I hope! Summer is in full swing, and lots of activities are going on. We’ve finished Memorial Day and Fourth of July, maybe we’ve gone fishing or boating. Bicycling is actually the most common summer sport, according to the trivia board at my local bank. Find a cool and comfy spot to relax, and grab a glass of something cool. Sometimes these activities don’t go quite as planned, and we end up in the Urgent Care center seeking medical attention.
But there are other types of care that folks need, too. So many people these days are out of work, living on less than a shoe string, and depending on the government or local charities to help them stay in their homes and fed and clothed. Disabled folks have a rough go, too. Depending on public transportation can be difficult. Have you ever wondered about any of your neighbors? Or do you know someone who fits in either category? Do you have any sense of urgency to care for others? Physically, emotionally, spiritually?
Maybe as the offering basket is passed, you toss in a few bucks to ease your conscience. That sounds like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. In three of the Gospels – Matthew, Mark and John – Jesus did say that the poor would always be with us. However, He never said to ignore them! In suburban America, we are often insulated from the misery of others. We drive our air-conditioned car to our driveway, and hit our push-button garage door opener, then push the button again once inside. I have lived in a house where I never saw my neighbors for months or even years at a time this way, and I was in a duplex at the time!
Somehow, I can’t see Jesus acting that way. I can see Him parking His car in the drive, walking the dog up and down the street so He could get to know some of His neighbors. I don’t see Him isolating Himself. I see Him getting involved, being inconvenienced, showing true love even when it wasn’t fun or comfortable.
Do you see people around you who desperately need someone to love them, to share with them, to help them, to pray for therm? Will you step up and do that? Do you have an elderly neighbor who may need help with something – a ride to a doctor’s appointment or the store? Maybe help with the yard or home repairs? Is there a young mother who is overwhelmed and just needs a break for a few hours? Maybe someone is going through cancer treatment or recovering from a surgery. What can you do to help? Can you get their mail, listen to them talk a while or run an errand for them? How about someone who is unemployed? Or someone who just doesn’t have income to make ends meet? How about someone who doesn’t drive and needs a ride?
We don’t need to head to India or even out of our own county to find people who are hurting and in need of Jesus’ love. Within two blocks of my house, there has been a house fire, a person who had heart surgery, another person who had back surgery then came home and developed pneumonia; and another person who has a medical condition preventing them from driving. Am I going to stay inside my own little house and pretend that there is no need? I pray I don’t!
My dad was such a wonderful example. He had an old high school classmate he called A.J., who was mentally challenged. A.J. rarely bathed, and wore long sleeves and a wool coat with a wool hat even on the hottest summer days. He had several peculiar mannerisms and was very ill-mannered, including rarely speaking to anyone but Daddy. Daddy invited him to our home for dinner about every six weeks or so. My mother didn’t appreciate this, but she too, was a wonderful example. She fixed a good dinner, smiled and made sure everyone ate. Then A.J. would simply eat all that was left. All of it, unless Mom had cooked so much that Daddy would send a large plate of leftovers home with A.J.
One evening as we were driving back home after taking A.J. to his tiny, filthy apartment, I asked my Dad why we did this. His relaxed and gentle answer made an impression – because AJ had nothing and nobody to look after him, while we had an abundance to share. A.J. was in urgent need of care; Mother Teresa would have smiled.
So, who will you help today? Or maybe you’re the one in need of help. Find a pastor or priest, and let them give you the help they can access. Include in that help a solid relationship with Jesus. You won’t regret it.