There is a 60 year old, wheelchair bound man who roams about my apartment complex. His hair is a shock of white, his spine is crooked, and his legs are horribly swollen with edema. When he wheels about, his progress could be measured in inches.
I was walking over to Publix when I came upon this man, Gary. Feeling neighborly, I pushed Gary to Publix and back. Our conversation was engaging, and the day was agreeable. As I wheeled him back to his apartment, he began to pry into my apartment’s exact location, and my schedule. My stomach gave an uneasy turn, so I answered with vague details.
When we arrived to his apartment door, Gary invited me inside. I entered with growing apprehension. The apartment was filthy. The only decor haning from his walls were framed pictures of Ariel from The Little Mermaid. My stomach sank. Gary beckoned me to close the door and said, “I didn’t think I would ask you this so soon, since I have just met you…”
A voice in my head screamed for me to run out the door, before the old man could ask his question.
“…but would you be able to help me go to the bathroom?”
Immediately, the silent prayer, “Why, God? Why, God? Why, God?” filled my mind. If I bailed on Gary, was I still a good Christian? Would God want me to help this old man, who I just met, go to the bathroom? I decided that I could not leave Gary if he had to use the restroom right then. So I answered stoicly, “Let’s do this.”
“Oh, I don’t have to go now,” exclaimed Gary. “I thought I could get your number and call you whenever I need to go.”
A few years ago, I would have been strongly convicted to obligate myself to Gary and help him until I was physically unable to do so. Fortunately, I have become more confident in God’s purpose for me, and following my purpose give me life and joy. Helping Gary would only lead to a life filled with resentment. There are people who God has given that gift of service and are available to help the Garys in our lives, so we are free to use the gifts God has given us to love others.
In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well…Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. – Romans 12:6 & 9