Gleanings… June 2019
Some of you may know that I go down to the mall to walk on an irregular basis. It is a safe place to exercise and it gives me the chance to talk with people. Actually, I listen more than I talk because most people seem to need that. Some are widows or widowers, some are divorced, and some are single because they never chose to marry. Most are older than me and in most cases are happy to have someone listen. It is a blessing for me as well.
Stopped to talk with one of the older men at the mall the other day and he told me that another one of the “regulars” had just lost his wife after 60 years of marriage. He told me, “I’m going to take him out to lunch.” “You know, everyone needs a friend.” And it struck me that here is the work of God being carried out right in front of me.
We lead incredibly busy lives. We have appointment calendars at home, at the office, on our smartphones, and on bits of paper stuffed in our wallets and purses. We then need a system to remind us when it’s time for our next activity. In the end, we often have little extra time for the sudden opportunities that come our way. The result of our busy-ness is that we miss opportunity after opportunity to share God’s love with others.
I preach about loving God and loving our neighbor quite often. This comes from studying the Bible and other texts, and my personal struggle with how to get along with others, particularly those who have objections to how I do things (and I can be very hard-headed about some things). The conversation that I spoke of earlier has caused me to reconsider my actions. Is my schedule so important that I am willing to deny God the opportunity to use my presence by being a friend?
When Jesus told the parable of the Samaritan who helped the Jew who was beaten and left for dead (see Luke 10:30-37), his question of who proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers was answered with the statement, “The one who showed him mercy.” We never know when we may be called upon to extend the hand of help and mercy to another. In all likelihood, though, it will not appear on any appointment calendar. Instead it will ask us to respond on the spur of the moment with no regard for what we might have planned.
Have you experienced something like this in your life? Do you, like me, have a calendar that we use as a barrier to what God might want to do through us? It is easy to avoid stopping to help the wounded all around us by looking at our appointment calendars and deciding there is not enough time. My hope, though, is that my friend’s words will bring about a reexamination of how much we use our calendars to avoid interruptions in our lives.
“You know, everyone needs a friend.” Lord, may we be open to risking a break with our busy schedules in order to be your response to someone who needs a friend today. Amen.
See you Sunday if not before,
Pastor Braxton ><>