Community. Conversation. Connection.

Who Needs Your Help?

Is there anything sadder than an unanswered cry for help? How about if that unanswered cry is from a dad who just wants to get out of the shower, but his son used his towel and there were none left in the bathroom?

For those struggling to follow this scenario, it was me.

I called and called. I tried desperately to get one of my kids’ attention because my wife was giving the two foster babies a bath. I begged for a towel. I pleaded. Then I got angry when I could hear little voices on the other side of the wall playing and IGNORING me.

How do I know they were ignoring me? We live in an old house and the walls are pretty thin. At the level I was yelling, someone could have probably heard me outside in the driveway and brought me a towel. Our neighbor a quarter of a mile away was probably another minute from calling to make sure everything was okay.

After I heard their voices giggling as they happily ignored me, I called each of their names individually until I heard a faint “yes?” from my daughter (who had promised to run downstairs to get me the towel before I got in).

That petite “yes?” instead of a yelled back “what do you want?” reinforced that she knew what she was doing and had been caught.

“Go get me a towel from downstairs! …Please!” I was upset but I did throw in the “please” at the end (reluctantly).

In those embarrassing, desperate moments it struck me that we often operate like this in our churches. People are crying for help left and right, but we stay on the other side of the wall, playing our games and laughing it up.

We hear them, sometimes faintly and sometimes loud. “Phew! No one’s called my name, I don’t have to do anything.”

But we hear them just the same. The single mom at work who is exhausted and just needs a little break.  The family that just moved to town and doesn’t know a soul. The coworker who recently lost a loved one and just needs some encouragement. The elderly woman who can’t keep up her house since her husband passed away.

In many forms, they cry out, but it’s messy and we don’t have time and we are doing other things and we are taking care of ourselves and taking care of our families…

“If he wants me to help, he’ll ask for me himself.”

“If she really needs me, God will show me.”

In Luke 10, Jesus tells the parable of the good Samaritan. It starts with a question from a man who knows he must love God with everything inside and love his neighbor as he loves himself. Here’s a telling phrase in verse 29: But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

If you don’t know the story go and read it. What Jesus illustrated made it clear: the one crying for help is your neighbor.

There’s a peculiar bit of ‘wisdom’ that says, “God helps those who help themselves.” You can’t always help yourself. In my situation as a person calling for assistance, it would have been more difficult and embarrassing for me to come find someone.  You may be guilty that before you help you want a sign or want someone to just tell you he needs help, but that sets you up to be wholly apathetic.

Ignore. Ignore. Ignore. We then justify ourselves and our complacency with self-righteousness and excuses.  We’ll be playing our games on the inside, focused on ourselves, while the world is screaming for help until they’re hoarse on the outside.

I’m guilty, but I feel challenged and I hope you do too.

Are you hearing any neighbors today? What are you going to do about it?

44 Comments

  1. I walk with God today because a neighbor invited me to church, that was over 47 years ago. Those neighbors became a second family for me, taking me in when my father would lock me out of my own home. They fleshed out this Scripture…

    A new commandment I give to you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. John 13:34

    Because of their example I try to live up to that Scripture as well…although I know at times I
    fall short. Help us Father to love as your son Jesus!

    Thanks for the challenge bro…appreciate your heart.

    • I love great testimonies, Jay! What amazing fruit has come out of that act of love and care. You are a great blessing and I appreciate you too.

  2. Awesome illustration. I would have gotten tired and just ran. :)

    This seems to be a theme today.
    Michael recently posted..Phobia Of Public RestroomsMy Profile

    • That was honestly my next option! Thanks Michael.

  3. Jason, funny illustration… until i got thinking deeper about it. i ask myself, “how many times have i been enjoying the blessings of a Christian heritage EXCLUSIVELY?”

    my answer: too many times.

    thanks for kicking me in the butt this morning :)
    Scott Coucheour recently posted..Dog PoopMy Profile

    • My butt is being kicked too (seems to be happening a lot lately)! Thank you, Scott.

  4. OK, you and Michael both reference bathrooms and the Good Samaritan today…what’s up with that?

    Thank you for the 2x4 this morning. I’m afraid I have been guilty of this. I need to start paying more attention to those in need.
    Dusty Rayburn recently posted..Parent &amp ChildMy Profile

  5. Looks like I need to go read Michael’s post first today. :)

    You aren’t the only one who needs to pay attention. I’m writing all these things because it’s true of me and these are things I’m processing and wanting desperately to learn once and for all.

    Thanks Dusty.

  6. You know, this makes me reflect some on the good Samaritan parable. We like to demonize the “passers-by” -- but they had decent reasons why they passed by -- they could have at least alerted someone to the situation. We do the same thing -- we’ve got good reasons, too. It’s just not so guilt-inducing when the guy’s not actually left for dead. Forgive me, Lord. Help me in my weakness to practice love more perfectly.
    herbhalstead recently posted..holdmebackMy Profile

    • Amen. This is my prayer as well. Thanks, Herb.

  7. Okay, I totally would have been out there giggling, too. And probably encouraging the kids to do so. That’s the kind of good friend I am.
    Wendy recently posted..Sweet dreams arent made of thisMy Profile

    • Ha! I think you’re confusing the word ‘friend’ with ‘jerk’ in this case. And if you were there, I know you wouldn’t have wanted me to make a break for it and get my own towel. :)

      Thanks for your thoughts, Wendy. Inspiring!

  8. At first this story just made me laugh. Afterwards it made me realize this is serious business.
    Two weeks ago I helped myneighbour who needed to go to the hospital. I always help an old lady in my village. Actually I was raised that way. People can always call me or I call them and ask them if they need help. Weeks ago on Kevin Martineau’s blog I found out I had to set boundaries so people won’t take advantage of me because I will always help. This is a good reminder for me.

    But I do have a question. I think it has to do with me that I don’t understand. “You may be guilty that before you help you want a sign or want someone to just tell you he needs help, but that sets you up to be wholly apathetic.” <- What do you mean by that?

    • You help where you can and show God’s love, but you definitely don’t lose yourself in always doing everything for everyone all the time! It’s a balance, but most of the time there are little cries for help we can answer and be a part of people’s lives, showing God’s grace and love.

      Apathetic just means cold or numb. The more layers we put between us and those who need, the conditions we put on it before we’ll help someone, it makes us eventually hard to even hear anymore. Our excuses our so much louder in our ears. Hope that makes sense. Thanks Ani.

      • Yes, thanks.

  9. I just received an email from my sister and her husband, who have a child with autism and who feel excluded by their church family. They were asking for counsel about how to reverse the situation. Sadly we had to share that our experience has been that we needed to take initiative, ask for help, and teach people how to help (our daughter had physical disabilities). It’s a sad commentary on our society and church that we turn away and look away from those in need.

    • Joy, that is so sad. We have a little boy in our congregation with autism (not severe, but trying for the parents nonetheless). We love. We pray. And most of all, we try to understand. Thanks for your thoughts.

  10. I’ve unfortunately been on both sides of this. I’ve been the one whispering that I need help and got ignored (by a minitry person) and I’ve been the one to ignore.

    I think the main reason I ignore, is because time and time again I just feel inadequate to help. I honestly don’t think I can make anything better in a lot of situations and that I’m awful at sounded sincere even though I sincerely am.

    But I guess all that falls under the excuses portion. So I need to shut up and put up.

    Great post. Once again.

    • You’re not alone, man! I’ve felt overwhelmed by so many needs around me, but I know when I act even in a small way, it makes a difference and the other person feels supported and loved more than they did. I know I just can’t leave it someone else because what if the good Samaritan never walks down this road, you know? It’s up to me.

      Thanks for the great thoughts, Tyler.

  11. Oh that we would be obedient to His first quiet call.

    My prayer is to be ever more sensitive to the sound of His ovice, whether it echos in someone’s whisper or thier shout for help.

    Great words Jason.
    HisFireFly recently posted..Thursday -- Pleasantly disturbedMy Profile

    • Thanks Karin. And that’s really the point. Jesus said “you took care of me when I was sick, visited me in prison…whenever you did it to the least of these.” If we truly understand that it’s really His voice crying, we can’t just pass on by.

  12. Sometimes I try really, really hard. Sometimes I just make excuses.
    What am I going to do about it? I guess I’ll start by making a phone call to an aquaintance from Church and see how she is doing…
    Helen recently posted..Happy Katdishmas!My Profile

    • Thank you Helen. You reminded me too that I have a phone call to make so thanks doubly. :)

  13. I live alone and so when I go into the shower without a towel there is only me to blame and there’s only me to fix it. (I could blame the dog, but what would be the point of that?)
    Sarah Salter recently posted..Love Can Go DownMy Profile

    • Maybe you could train Sadie to bring you a towel. Is she able to reach the towel shelf in the linen closet, or do you need to put up a footstool?
      Helen recently posted..Happy Katdishmas!My Profile

      • Helen, living alone is VERY different… When the towels come out of the dryer, they typically stay in the laundry basket until it is needed again. Then, they get dumped on the fainting sofa in my bedroom. Then, they sit there until (a) I need them or (b) I get a weekend off or (c) my mom comes to visit. Sad. I know. When I lived with my parents and/or had roommates, I didn’t live like this. Living alone has ruined me. My husband’s gonna have to retrain me when he shows up. And since the towels are usually on the fainting sofa in my bedroom, it’s not a far dash from the shower. And since I live alone, it’s not an embarrassing dash. (Unless I accidentally leave the blinds open…)
        Sarah Salter recently posted..Love Can Go DownMy Profile

        • I still think you should train Sadie to bring you a towel….
          Better yet, teach her to fold the towels and put them away for you!!!
          Helen recently posted..Happy Katdishmas!My Profile

          • If you have any tips on that training, please let me know, Helen. :)
            Sarah Salter recently posted..Love Can Go DownMy Profile

          • Hey, if Lassie could tell people that Timmy fell in the well (yet again), I’m sure Sadie can learn to bring you a towel once in a while.
            Wendy recently posted..Sweet dreams arent made of thisMy Profile

        • Helen is right, that dog needs to pull her weight and do her fair share. Train her to wash dishes too while you’re at it! :)

          • Actually, that’s not a bad idea! And since I have psoriasis and atopic dermatitis on my hands, that would save me a lot of heartache (and HAND-ache!) Thanks, Jason! :)
            Sarah Salter recently posted..Love Can Go DownMy Profile

  14. Great reminder Jason. As you point out, it is SO easy to spiritualize why we can’t help someone. We need more good samaritans who are willing to just help when needed.
    Kevin M. recently posted..Is the journey more important than the destinationMy Profile

    • Amen. And if more were there and ready there wouldn’t be so much strain on the ones who are already. Thanks Kevin.

  15. Congrats on the new online diggs.. well the address at least .. :) The faith and hospitality are still here… a la Jason!

    Preach on! .. You convict very well… and I’m still smiling. :)

    • That’s how I like to do it, Bonnie! Thanks so much. :)

  16. This one really convicted me this morning, Jason. Thanks for stepping on my toes. I needed it.
    Billy Coffey recently posted..StuckMy Profile

    • I’m convicted about all of it too, Billy. Thanks for your thoughts. We all need it.

  17. Great word……again. Ouch.

    • Yeah. it’s a painful one, but we just need more grace. Thanks Sherry.