Monday, September 08, 2008

take it or leave it

Last week it was HOT in Ann Arbor. The students seemed optimistic, yet sweaty, on the first day of classes, and I was walking among them on my way back to New Life from the League. All the fluid in my body was descending quickly to my feet, the glare off the concrete was making my eyes squinty, and as I looked toward the future, the skin of my middle-aged years was looking more and more sun-damaged with every passing minute out there. I was, perhaps, waddling.

To my right (oh, if I’d only looked left!), a friend of mine sat in the shade of the bus stop, looking sad. My hipster wide-rimmed shades lended themselves nicely to peering at her out of the corner of my eye without turning my head. She didn’t notice me. Excellent. I kept walking.

Now, I happen to know that she probably was sad for a particular reason. It would have been really quite good of me to stop and talk to her. I was thinking these thoughts for the next block, along with: “NO. I refuse to turn around and go back. It is hot; I am tired. The bus will come soon anyway.”

I believe this was one of those take-it-or-leave-it moments that God gives me.

“Just go back.”

“Who me? Nah. Wait, who is this? Ha! I’m so silly. Not a big deal. Seriously.”

My question on the subject is: how much does God care whether or not I go back? Am I being sinful by moving forward toward the goal of elevating my legs? Or am I missing out on just one of the boundless ordinary opportunities to love others that God gives me? Listen, I certainly don't miss out on every opportunity. In fact, I’ve taken him up on quite a few of them. The truth is, I’m doing quite well at loving people, if I do say so myself.

But let me ask myself a question. How sweet could life be if I made it a goal to take God up on these promptings more frequently? In reality, they aren’t that numerous, and they aren’t that hard.

Often my reason for saying NO to God is my “spiritual green-ness.” Oh, I am very green indeed. From my perspective, my energy resources are very limited, draining quickly and Must! Be! Conserved! I join the ranks of many other devotedly green people by feeling genuinely panicked. At some point, the earth will be completely wiped out of its resources, and at some point, I will use my final drop of relational energy, have a nervous breakdown and die.

I can only laugh at myself. That, and remember the truth—that as I labor, “I am struggling with all [the Spirit’s] energy, which so powerfully works in me” (Colossians 1:29). I have to count on God to give me his strength to follow through on his ideas. He is trustworthy, and what he asks of me will not hurt me, at least not for long. His quiet calls beckon me to a more full life. I’ll be keeping my ear out.


Anonymous said...

If everyone walked by those going through a hard time imagine what the world would be like. There is a reason that this opportunity presented itself. It breaks my heart that you felt relieved this person didn't notice you. She probably did. And this is why New Life/Christianity is such a hard "sell" to those in true emotional need. They are merely walked by in hopes of a better (happier) opportunity. It is too messy to truly reach out those in obvious deep pain. Next stop: dancing in the seats Sunday morning with smiles on our faces, praising God, and being the great, happy people we like to think we are. It's all just so fake.

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