Ever have one of those days where you “just didn’t have time to deal with that?”
Am I the only one who feels that those are the days when unexpected demands seem to descend upon us?
Wednesday was one of those days. It was a day that exhausted me. It was a day when I kept running around and was incredibly busy, but I laid my head down and ask, “What did I accomplish today?”
Well, there was one thing.
A few weeks ago, a young man named James wandered into the church building, looking for water. James has been deaf since birth and cannot speak at all. He can sign–which, of course, no one in the office can do. He has to write down everything for us, which is difficult because his right hand shakes.
We have deduced that James has some major health problems. He lives in one of the transient motels just down the street from Augusta Heights. He usually just wants water, but has needed food as of late. He said (or wrote) yesterday that someone has stolen some of his money. He asked if someone could take him to Triune Mercy Center to get some help.
There were a million reasons not to do this. What if he was dangerous? What if he was mentally ill? What if he was just another freeloader? What if his intent was to rob us blind?
And then, there was the fact that we just didn’t have time to do it. Other people to see, other things to do, other needs to care for…we did not have time for James.
But we took it anyway.
Our office manager wrote pages of notes to find out what James needed. I drove to Triune, stopping at red lights to read the things he would write down for me. He says that he wants to attend Augusta Heights some Sunday, which now has me scrambling to find someone who speaks sign language.
The people at Triune–wonderful, as always–were able to get him connected to the right people to get him the right kind of help.
As I drove away, thinking of how I was going to finish all the tasks that were left on the day’s list, I had no regrets about stopping to do this one.
This is who we are. This is what we do. This is what we are called to be. If we are too busy to attend to the needs of people with our time as well as our money, then we need to do a serious re-evaluation of our commitment to Jesus Christ.
We have the compassion to make a donation from time to time. We have the compassion to participate in charity walks. We have the compassion for those that are at a distance from us. But do we have the compassion to let the needs become human?
That is the full essence of compassion.
I do not know if James will ever come to a worship service, and I know even less about what we could do to permanently change his situation. But we will never find out if we refuse to drop our schedules for a minute to engage another human being.
What we did, in the grand scheme, was very, very small. But until we learn to take the hand of another and do even the smallest acts of kindness, then we cannot fully understand the work that Christ has called us to do.
Yesterday’s timing was awful, and I am now so glad that it was. It was a much-needed reminder of why Christians are really in this, of what we truly need to commit ourselves to doing on a daily basis. We always have to prioritize. But we should look to say “yes” to meeting the needs of others rather than finding an excuse to say no.
Some would say that this attitude is wimpy. It’s too “touchy feely” and soft for REAL Christianity. Maybe some would argue that we should just tell James to “suck it up” and leave us alone. While few churches would verbalize that thought, isn’t that exactly the message that is offered when we refuse to open our hands to the needs of others?
If it changes our hearts, grows our compassion, and alters the message that we send into the world, then maybe “wimpy” is exactly where we need to be.
There are a million reasons to say “no” when someone like James comes along. But there is one man who gave us reason to say YES, and He is more than enough.