Her face radiated with the vitality of goodness and superiority. She carried her age with the grace that only the insulation of money could give.
“I’m ready,” she said grandly, “to be more active in the church. God has given me gifts that should be used. I've decided it's time to give more of my time and talent.”
“How nice,” I said.
She meant that she wanted to stand before the church and quote her insipid Helen Steiner Rice poems and talk about how good life can be if only we have the right attitude.
“Just let me know when you need me.”
I needed to open a window. Her cologne was making me gag.
“As a matter of fact,” I began, “I know a young woman whose husband beats her when he drinks too much. She desperately needs an older friend who can just listen and be of emotional support. Would you like me to introduce you to her?”
Her smile became a tad strained.
“She lives just around the corner,” I pressed. “Want to come with me now and meet her?”
She took a step back and wrinkled her nose like I made a rude noise and a bad smell.
“I have to be out of town a lot,” she stammered. “I’m not really going to be able to do that.”
And she left. There was no poetic eloquence to explain her sudden reversal. She just got the hell out of my office, which suited me fine.
Okay, I confess that I enjoyed that too much. I got a lot of satisfaction out of piercing through the insulation of her pompous comfortable life.
Satisfaction or not, sometimes it’s my job to pull people out of their comfort zone. If you want to do God’s work, be aware that you’re going to get your hands dirty.
In almost any town, you can walk out your front door and see the houses of people who are going through great difficulties. Some are violent. Some are suicidal. Some have children who are violent or suicidal. Marriages are on the verge of breaking up. Little children hide under their covers and try not to hear their parents fighting. Many are looking at huge bills and tiny checking accounts and just wish they could run away. Family members will have to take turns eating today because there’s not enough food to go around.
One of the gospels tells of Jesus getting sick at his stomach as he looked on people in similar circumstances. Then he challenged his disciples. “They are like sheep without a shepherd. The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Pray to the Lord that he will send forth workers.”
Perhaps Jesus calls us through the prayers if his first followers. Are we one going to be some of the workers the disciples prayed for? Or will we just try to get out of town?