My mother takes one trip a year. She visits her sister in San Diego for the week of her birthday, and it is one of her life's highlights. She plans and prepares carefully for those delightful days in the southern California sunshine. This year, with temperatures on the rise here in Seattle, she had arranged for her neighbor to water her lawn and flowers daily while she was gone.
I was surprised when she called me a few days into her trip, and after telling me what a wonderful time she was having, asked me to drive up to her house, check on her yard, and spend some time giving it an extra watering. To my discredit, the thoughts that immediately came started with such phrases as "Why didn't you...", "I don't have...", and "This is so...".
The drive to her home from mine is thirty minutes each way, and I had a busy afternoon scheduled. But I gritted my teeth, told Mom "of course", and then grumbled out the door and most of the way up the highway. Somehow, though, the Spirit was able to shimmy a two-word message in between my free-flowing gripes:
Remember Connie? My mind raced back to a phone conversation I had had with my friend Connie nearly twenty years ago, one that had been long-since filed away in the dusty annals of my brain. You see, I was a young mother and had somewhere important to be one morning. I had called Connie to see if I might be able to drop my little four year-old off at her home for a couple of hours. I hated to ask last minute, but no sooner did I do so, Connie quickly jumped in:
"YES! Thank you! I would love to have her today."
I breathed a hugh sigh, and then realized what she had said. "Thank you?", I questioned.
She explained: "I wanted to be of service to someone today, and now here you are calling! Thanks for giving me the opportunity!"
Silence. My lips may have mouthed the word "wow". Then profuse thanks by me, a happy two hours for my daughter with other children and a coveted dress-up collection, then life moved on and I quickly forgot the lesson Connie taught me. Until four days ago.
Heavenly Father doesn't usually check our calendars for our availability when He asks us to help another. If fact, if anything, I'm betting He sends us a prompting at the most inconvenient time, to test our willingness to make good on the prayers we routinely offer: "help me heed the Spirit's promptings today" or "may I know when I might make a difference for someone" or "please give me the opportunity to serve".
When we purport to be willing, and even covenant to be so, we must be ever-ready to go with haste when called upon. This can be frustrating and difficult, but perhaps it is much of the true essence of living a Christlike life.
Many years ago, I read a poem written by Carol Lynn Pearson that my spirit continues to remember when I need its message. It is called "The Forgiving" and is about forgiveness, but I think it also applies perfectly to the proper mindset we must strive to have if we are to be of the most help to our Father.
The words are simple, but the cadence is irregular and the rhyme sporadic. Read it slowly, then try reading it again. Absorb the message and let it change you, the way it has me:
Forgive?Did you feel that? I shed a couple of tears every time I read this poem, and even typing it just now had to stop to grab a Kleenex. Such profound doctrine, such new meaning to everyday "ordinary" opportunities, and such a caution for scheduling ourselves too rigidly.
Will I forgive,
What is the gift,
You would lift
My poor place
To stand beside
You would have
Me see with
And with Him
Reach out to
A sorrowing heart --
For one small
To share in
Christ's great art.
Will I forgive,
May I --
I would like to be known as someone who practices what she preaches, who walks the talk. I would like to be more like Connie when faced with a chance to help another, by saying "thank you!" and then inwardly pleading "Oh, may I?"