Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Ride

We all have to make decisions on the best use of our time. The difficulty comes when there are competing claims on that time. Sometimes, we do the right thing in spite of ourselves. This is from January 23, 2006.

Time is tight right now. Going back a week and a half and going forward five days, there is something EVERY NIGHT. There are ball games and Bibles studies, an Open House For Prospective Students at school and Monday Night For the Master at our congregation. All are terrific, especially the spiritual stuff, but I have to plan my days to the minute. Yesterday, Sunday, was Day 11 in my current lifestyle marathon. My clock scheme was humming. I preached for our Chinese service in the morning on The Man Born Blind and with the Lord's help, it went well. Lunch with my brethren saved me from having to cook. I snuck in a catch-up nap, followed by twenty minutes of aerobics on my Tony Little Gazelle. To top it off, Houston was receiving a much needed rain! I headed to our school building for ninety minutes of work before 5:00 pm worship. I had my minutes calculated to where I would be done with everything and home in time for a new episode of Cold Case, Sunday night's most watched TV crime drama (or so they say.) I traveled down Fondren Avenue when it happened- I got caught at a red light on the corner of Creekbend. A young man approached my car and I rolled down the window. He said the bus that was supposed to stop at 3:05 had not showed up. He had to get to work and asked if I could help. I told him to hop in. His name was Mark and he had just moved to Texas from Charlotte. His job was at a super market and he had to be there by 4:30. I thought it would just be a short drive to the next bus stop. I was wrong. I ended up taking him to the store, a considerable distance from the school classroom, my actual destination. On the way, I learned about Mark. He loves the Tarheels, the Panthers, the Bobcats- anything associated with North Carolina. He moved to Houston when his girlfriend moved. I asked whether he worshipped anywhere- he said not at the moment. He told me about his employers and working conditions. When we arrived at the store, he thanked me and shook my hand. He asked about my church and he said he might be coming by. It had taken forty minutes.

I'm not going to lie. I was getting more irritated by the minute as we traveled toward his job. I hid it but I had IMPORTANT STUFF I needed to be doing, getting ready to teach Bible to my 8th and 10th grade students this week. I arrived back just in time for evening worship. (OK, I did make a small stop at Starbucks to help me simmer down.) An hour and a half wasted! Slowly, I began to be ashamed of myself. I worked four years in a grocery store so I should have been sympathetic. Mark told me his normal bus ride takes an hour one way so he was spending two hours on the bus to carry out groceries for minimum wage. Isn't that what we say young people should do, work hard and pay their dues? How can I preach to my students that the Lord gives us good deeds to do and then be angry when he gives me my opportunity? Why did it work out that I stopped at that red light? If I had left five seconds earlier, there would have been no young man coming up to my Toyota. Of course, that young man MIGHT NOT have found a ride and he MIGHT have been fired. The scriptures teach to love our neighbor. In the Good Samaritan story, Jesus expanded the definition of neighbor to include anyone with whom we come into contact. Mark became my neighbor. I have no doubt the Lord used me to give that young man a chance and I was inwardly griping the whole time! Read the words of Ephesians 2:10:"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works WHICH GOD PREPARED IN ADVANCE FOR US TO DO." There is no wiggle room for me in that writing of Paul. It's a verse we ALWAYS memorize in my classes. It's a lesson the kids NEED to know! You should know, I got my work done- I always do. By the time I went to bed, I was feeling pretty sheepish. I resolved to do better and the next time, I will. Or, maybe the next time after that. One of these times, I WILL get it right, with a little help from the Lord!

Applicable quote of the day:
"It is easier to love humanity as a whole than to love one's neighbor."
Eric Hoffer

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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