This past Saturday night we were rudely awakened by Macy’s deep bark. She is our Labrador Retriever and even as a rather old dog, her hearing remains fairly sharp. I squinted at the clock and tried to discern if the doorbell I heard ringing was real or part of a dream. It was 2:46am (3:46am on our phones because they had already switched for Daylight Savings). What had caused Macy to bark?
Eric ran downstairs to make sure no one was at the door. When he was assured that the doorbell had indeed been in my dreams he came back upstairs. But instead of getting back in bed, he stood at the bedroom window.
“What are you looking at?” I asked.
“There are car lights. They aren’t moving. I wonder if someone is stuck?”
The temperature was frigid and the wind was brutal. It was causing the snow that had fallen earlier that day to drift in great waves of white across the road, making it impassable.
We both stood at the window watching the headlights of the motionless car. Finally, after a few minutes, my husband turned to me, “Shall I go rescue them?”
Now, I have to say that I hesitated. I am sad to admit that. But what is someone doing out at 3am in the morning, anyway? They are probably drunk, at the very least. The thought of my husband going out on that freezing, blustery night to rescue a complete stranger did not thrill my soul.
But my husband is a born rescuer. If someone needs help, he’s there. He always has been like that, even as a young man. It’s is one of the things I love most about him.
And, so, he was soon dressed in warm coat and boots and headed outside to get his biggest skid-loader to see what he could do.
Forty-five minutes or so later, he was back inside. He had not only rescued the man and the young teen with him (presumably his daughter), who were coming home from a party but had also cleared the road for any others who might need to use it.
The weather made conversation difficult and so Eric doesn’t really know much about the man and the young girl that was with him. He couldn’t really tell if he had drunk too much before leaving the party or if the girl was truly his daughter. We don’t know why Macy even barked at that time. What we do know is that they needed help and Eric had the means to provide that help.
Can you imagine how they must have felt when they saw a skid-loader headed their way to rescue them? They probably felt pretty hopeless as they sat there in the dark, surrounded on all sides by wind and snow. But, for some reason, God had allowed us to be awakened so that Eric could help them, just when they needed it.
I think of how often something similar happens to us. How we are at the end of our rope and feeling so hopeless and then–just at the right time–we get the help or encouragement we need. Someone offers to bring a meal, or they let us know they are praying for us, or we receive a little note in the mail. They may take the kids for an evening or come sit quietly with us as we mourn.
There are millions of ways that God orchestrates to comfort, encourage, strengthen, and, yes, even rescue us. He does this most often through His people, who are His hands and feet, meeting the needs of fellow siblings in Christ, as well as the lost in this world who so desperately need Christ.
Sometimes we get to be the rescuer (as my husband did last night) and sometimes we need to be rescued.
It takes selflessness and love to be the rescuer.
It takes humility and grace to be rescued.
Oh, may we meet both of these situations in a way that honors God and points others to Him.
NOW… there are some common temptations for us in these two areas, aren’t there? Some common ways we respond that would not be from God–
Temptations for the would-be rescuer—
“Someone else can help them.”
“It’s just so inconvenient.”
“I don’t have time.”
“It might be dangerous.”
“I just don’t feel like helping.”
“I have more important things to do.”
“It’s too hard.”
Temptations for those who need rescued—
“What will people think of me?”
“I’m so embarrassed!”
“I don’t need help!”
“I can do this alone.”
“I should be able to handle this.”
But–here’s the thing– God has designed us to need each other. He has designed humans to fellowship with one another (I John 1:7); to encourage and edify one another (I Thess. 5:11); to love one another (John 13:34-35); to help gently restore each other when we are struggling with a sin (Galatians 6:1); to be kindly affectionate with brotherly love (we are family!) (Romans 12:10); to meet the needs of each other (Romans 12:13); to rejoice and weep with one another (Romans 12:15).
This gives us a beautiful picture of what being in God’s family should look like. I fear that in these days, it is more often like a bunch of disconnected people going to the same building for a few hours each week –like a big group who would attend a show or a concert but know nothing about one another. This is understandable as we live in a culture where so many of us do not even know our neighbors.
We aren’t going to change the culture or probably not even our churches, so what can we do? What should we do?
Since we don’t do what is right because we want to change something but, rather, because we want to obey the Lord we love, we simply choose to do what is right in whatever opportunities we are given.
This means putting aside our own selfish agenda and unwillingness to give of our time, money, and other resources (that aren’t ours, anyway) to reach out to help; to know the Word so we can encourage and point others to its treasure trove of help and promises.
It means casting aside our ugly pride and to stop worrying about what people think and, instead, graciously and gratefully accept help when we need it.
These things sound so easy, but, unfortunately, they often aren’t. Most of us are not naturally unselfish or humble. It is only by the Holy Spirit working in and through us that we grow in these areas. This is a lifelong journey as we seek to become more like Christ.
Only by casting selfishness and pride away can we be the family of God that He has designed us to be. Only by reaching out, helping, and accepting help when we need it can we be obedient to God’s Word.
May we give our efforts to building up the body of Christ, creating strong and loving bonds with our siblings in Christ. As the world continues on its downward spiral, I believe we are going to need each other more and more. Let’s be building the bonds of love now so that they are strong enough to withstand any storm that comes.