For my birthday, my sister gave me Home To Harmony by Phillip Gulley. I’ve hooted through many of the chapters. It’s about a Quaker pastor’s life when he returns to pastor his childhood church.
I’m not sure if I find it so funny because it IS so funny, or because I grew up in the Pastor’s home and know that some of this stuff can’t be made up!
The chapter I read this morning is the story of a little boy in his son’s 1st grade class. This little boy terrorizes everyone and his son says he’s going to karate chop him.
The pastor knows that the little boy’s mama ran off with someone and the dad is doing his very best to show his boys they are valuable and loved but he works all night and can’t be there for them as much as he’d like to be.
When the pastor goes to school to eat lunch with his son, the other little boy tells him all about his mama and how she ate lunch with him yesterday. A girl screams, “You’re a liar. Your mommy ran away. She’s gone.”
The boy screamed “Shut your face.” and lunged across the table at her shaking with rage. The pastor grabbed him and held him as he cried.
The lunch aid came over and told Adam if he didn’t settle down he’d have to go sit by himself at the quiet table.
The following paragraphs are so true and sadly are things I’ve experienced.
“The is the world’s response to suffering.
We want it out of sight, off by itself over at the quiet table.
Raw pain alarms us. It reminds us that life isn’t as orderly as we’d hoped. We demand that pain settle down before we shuffle it off to the quiet table. We want pain to stay in its own little section, want to keep it from spilling over into the other parts of life. Just like those sectioned lunch trays.
Keep pain in it’s own little compartment.”
What’s the answer? What’s the correct response?
The truth is that we don’t want to get messy. We don’t want to have to help someone else. We are so busy and why can’t they just pull themselves up and get on with it?
Not everyone feels this way or lives this way, but enough do. Enough do.
Those of us reeling from an ugly turn in our lives can tell you that.
I don’t want to be the one turning away from someone in pain. I don’t want to be one who relegates the hurting to the quiet corner. I don’t want to be the one who wants others messiness to stay out of my neatly ordered life.
It’s hard to show mercy. It requires time. It requires change. It requires feeling the pain of others and that just plain hurts.
I heard a joke long ago about the spiritual gifts and how they’d apply to the Good Samaritan, I don’t remember it all but what I do remember is that the person with the gift of mercy would be in the ditch holding the wounded man, getting dirty because of his wounds. He’d be whispering words of comfort and crying real tears because of his pain.
That’s what Jesus does. He’s in the ditch with us. He holds us, comforts us, and touches our wounds. Saying, “God didn’t give me the gift of mercy.” doesn’t let you off the hook.
We aren’t free to say that because to be Christlike means we will show mercy and compassion to others just like our Savior did.
Here’s the question I so desperately wish I could convey to others.
What if it were you?
What if you were in my situation? What would you want people to do for (or with) you?
What if your baby died? What would you want people to do for (or with) you?
What if your husband was ill? What would you want people to do for (or with) you?
What if you felt like your life was out of control and you didn’t know what to do? What would you want people to do for (or with) you?
Really put yourselves in the place of people who are hurting. They don’t need platitudes and they don’t need shunning glances and whispers behind hands. They need Jesus and the only way to bring him to the hurting and needy is by going there yourself.
Little naughty boys who hurt because their mom is gone, need a hug. They don’t need the quiet corner.