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Fertile Ground by Pastor Connie Day of Little Church in the Pines

Island Park News of Island Park, Idaho

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Last week I wrote about an old man that my friend's neighbors saw at the dump. He was unloading a small trailer full of branches, and he seemed to need some help. When they finished their own work, they went and helped him with his load. He told them that he had been trying to unload the trailer for four hours. He would work awhile, then rest awhile. He was glad to finally have it done.

I almost can't imagine that no one stopped to help him until he was four hours into the job! People, in my experience, are generally good. We want to be neighborly and kind. But there are a lot of reasons why we miss opportunities to help, even when they are right in front of us.

As I wrote last week, it's possible that some people didn't see the old man at the dump that day because they were busy with their own lives. Others may not have seen his struggle because it was well-hidden. They might have come by when he was unloading a branch, and he looked fine. They might have come by when he was sitting resting, and he looked like he was doing OK. Someone might have even said, "Hey, how are you today?" And he might have said, "I'm fine. Thanks. And how are you?"

And that's how the conversation goes. "How are you?" "Just fine...Just fine." Sometimes when a person says they are "fine", they fail to mention that they are hurt, bruised or nearly shattered. Sometimes they don't tell you that they feel overwhelmed, barely able to keep going. In our polite conversations with one another, we don't always tell the truth. We don't want to burden others, or we don't want to expose our weakness. Or we don't want to admit to ourselves that we are struggling. It's hidden, sometimes just below the surface; sometimes deep down inside of us.

We don't know what is really going on in the minds and hearts of the people around us. We would do well to follow the advice that is attributed to the Greek philosopher, Plato: "Be kind, for every person you meet is fighting a hard battle."

It may be that we simply do not see the burden that someone else is carrying, but I think that some of the people at the dump that day did see the old man struggling with his load. They just might have been unsure about what to do. Some problems are easier than others, of course. The most obvious thing would be to help him unload the trailer. But it's not always that obvious. Sometimes when we see people struggling with a burden, we don't know what to do. We don't know the words to say. We don't know how to help. It's not that we don't want to; it's just that we don't feel qualified or competent. A friend of mine likes to say, "God doesn't call the qualified. God qualifies the called." You may not have the words. You may not feel confident about what you know. That's OK. Just be there. Help as you can. Listen. Share your love. God put you in that place for a reason. Just be an instrument that God uses to touch the life of another person with God's transforming love. You won't always feel qualified to help. But you are not on your own. God can work in and through you — through your faithful presence, and through your prayers — to bring hope and help to those who are in need.



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Original Publication Date: August 13, 2015



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