"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
July 29, 2009
My sister, Janie, got her first kiss from a little cross-eyed boy when they were in kindergarten. She came home from school that afternoon and told Mama. Mama asked Janie what she did when he kissed her and she replied, "I pretended like I didn't notice."
We have all faced various situations where we're unsure how to respond, so we tend to try to ignore them and pretend that nothing happened. There are times when it's best to walk away and not get involved. Everything we see or hear is not our battle to fight. Too often, people jump in without knowing all the details and end up finding themselves in a mess. Sometimes it's best to pretend not to notice and continue on our way.
When Jon and I were on vacation in San Antonio, we spent one day in the downtown area. When you go downtown, you basically have to try and find an inexpensive parking lot in which to leave your car for the day, and walk everywhere you want to go. We spent time along the Riverwalk, visited the Alamo and Tower of America. Someone told us that we should walk down to Market Square while we were there, which was several blocks away from the Riverwalk area. There are signs on every street corner showing directions, and we had asked a waitress how long it would take to get there, so it was easy to find. But what we didn't know, was that the walk included a few blocks of going through some pretty unsavory areas that we were a little uncomfortable walking through. It's was a little scary. I held on tightly to my purse and to Jon, and Jon held on tightly to me. We walked as fast as we could, and didn't dawdle.
Upon reaching Market Square (which we personally thought was a total waste of our walking steps and time), we saw a fairly well-dressed, clean gentleman leaning up against a wall. He looked as if he was waiting on someone or relaxing. A group of women walked by and he ignored them. But as soon as we got close to him, here he came asking us for money. We said no, and just continued walking. There weren't many people right there and we were a little concerned what he might do; but thankfully, he left us alone.
When we were walking back to the Riverwalk, we passed by a street where a bar was located. We heard yelling and there was a couple who were going at it. They were yelling and the woman was trying desperately to take swings at the man. A man, who was presumably the bar bouncer, was between them, trying to keep them apart and to break the fight up. They were drawing a lot of attention, and I noticed a couple people taking pictures on their cell phones. We kept walking and didn't see the outcome of the altercation.
Those were situations that Jon and I had no business getting involved in. When the man approached us for money, if Jon had of opened up his wallet or I had opened my purse, we could have ended up getting robbed. We had no way of knowing whether or not this man was armed. Our best solution was to continue walking to where there were a larger group of people, and not put ourselves in a position to potentially lose all our vacation cash.
When we saw the bar fight that had ended up on the street, we had no business jumping in and trying to help. More than likely, all that would have happened is that one of us would have ended up getting punched, and our involvement would have made the people angrier. That wasn't our battle to fight.
Kenny Rogers had a popular country song many years ago entitled, "The Gambler". A couple lines from the lyrics say: "You got to know when to hold em, know when to fold em, know when to walk away and know when to run." Nothing quite as spiritual as lyrics from a country song! But there is some truth to what the message here is; not necessarily when playing cards, but in life.
There are people that God places in our path for a reason and some for a season. But there also some that we need to walk away from. So how do we know the difference?
Our conscience was given to us for a really good reason. God placed within us discernment to know what's good/bad, right/wrong, etc. We have those built in sensors for a purpose. Many times we know the right thing to do. We know who is sincere and who's not. That doesn't mean that we will always make wise decisions. And there may be times when we're deceived by someone we thought we could trust. Even though we are given those internal signals to help us determine when we should sit up and take notice of a situation and when to ignore it, we are still human. We have emotions that tend to get involved and we can be led by sympathetic pleas. But I would much rather get bitten occasionally and find out that I reached out to someone who was only using me; than to become hard-hearted and bitter and think everyone is out to get me. A closed, hardened heart can make for a very miserable, lonely existence.
In Matthew 25, Jesus is teaching and says these words. "For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me."
The question was, "Lord, when did we see you" in all the various situations?
The answer was, "Inasmuch as you did it to the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me."
When I was a kid, I remember seeing a church Christmas play along these lines. I believe it was a cobbler who was expecting a visit from Jesus. He got everything in order, and was expectantly waiting. He kept having strangers showing up on his doorstep asking for food, a drink of water, a place to stay for the night, etc. He turned them all away because he didn't want them there when Jesus arrived. He didn't want them messing up his orderly shop. When he prepares for bed that night he is disappointed because he doesn't think Jesus showed up. He begins to pray and hears the voice of Jesus telling him that he did show up those different times, but the cobbler wouldn't let him in or help him.
In the day and age in which we live, we do need to use wisdom and discernment, and need to use caution. But we also need to keep our eyes and ears open, and be willing to give out of our abundance to those that God does place in our path to help. It doesn't always have to be something big, but can be something as small and simple as offering a "cup of cold water" to someone who is thirsty.
We tend to think that it always involves giving of our finances or giving up a material possession to someone in need. But it can be the giving of our time to help someone with a need. It can be a willingness to help a little old lady find something at Walmart when she asks us for help. It may be us running an errand for someone or helping out with groceries or a meal. There are numerous ways in which we can reach out and help others.
I know that I need to be more discerning and more open to reaching out to others who are in need. I know that I can't help everyone, but God isn't asking me to help everyone. But He is asking me to respond to those He puts in my path.
May we all have an open heart and discernment in knowing when to "pretend we don't notice" and walk away, and when to get involved and respond in obedience. Having a servant's heart and reacting in a way pleasing to God will fill our lives with much joy and fulfillment.
I've been reading about the opposite end of the spectrum. King David didn't get involved enough in one son's life. Absalom killed one of his half-brothers after plotting and planning and stewing in hatred for two years. Then he fled the country. Eventually, David sent for him and welcomed him back home with a promise of no punishment except that Absalom wasn't to come to David's home. Absalom tried twice to talk to David's advisor, hoping to get back in his father's home. But when the advisor didn't respond, Absalom set fire to his fields. David let him come back into his home. Eventually, Absalom started raising up his own army to take the kingdom from his father.
If David had gotten more involved in his family, he probably would have noticed how violent Absalom was. He might have been able to do something about it early. He might not have had to flee for his life.
Country Fried Okra
Okra -- cut into chunks
Dip okra in buttermilk to coat; roll in flour. Fry in hot oil until golden brown.
My sister was going to babysit her two granddaughters a while back. She keeps them fairly often and a lot of times the parents will just drop the girls off, then leave to go do whatever they have planned. But this particular day, my sister's son and daughter-in-law sat down to visit. Apparently, the 4 year old wanted her grandma all to herself. She sat on my sister's lap, pointed to her daddy and mommy and whispered, "Grandma, when are THEY going to leave?!"
A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. - Herm Albright
We hope you all are having an enjoyable summer.
We love you!
Loretta & Jon