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! â€¦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.Â 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 familiesâ€¦
“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. Â 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. Â 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?