Thursday, January 5, 2017

A Two-Way Street

January 5, 2017

I think Linda is worried. I've had a sour stomach for the past few days, along with being tired. It hasn't stopped me from doing what needs to be done; it just made it a bit less pleasant. Today I met and prayed with a fellow pastor who's been experiencing some difficult times at his church, plowed three driveways, and met with a family grieving the loss of a beloved husband/father/grandfather. I can think of a half dozen families going through difficult times, which keeps me motivated to do what I can to help.

This helping business is tricky. Too often, it degenerates into platitudes and handouts, neither of which do much good. People don't usually need good advice; they need Good News. And they need that Good News lived out side by side with them rather than tossed into their experience like one would toss a dog a bone. One of the blessings of living in a community for thirty years is that I've been given the privilege of living alongside people in good times and bad. And it's a two-way street. Jesus said it is more blessed to give than to receive, and we see this played out repeatedly as we've lived with these same neighbors for years. If all we do is give, our neighbors are placed at a disadvantage. They feel beholden to the giver, which if there is no way to pay back a kindness, often turns into guilt, which leads to estrangement. I lent a considerable sum to a friend some years ago, and sadly watched as he went from promising to repay to slowly withdrawing from church life. If it's not a two-way street, it's not healthy.

So I sit by the fire tonight, glad to be resting in its warmth, trusting that tomorrow I'll feel better, and thanking God for the opportunity to live here in this community where the ones most in need at the moment are not objects or projects to be checked off a Christian do-good list, but friends and neighbors who have been, and will be there for me when my turn comes.

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