September 2012

Love can be so Inconvenient!

In this issue:

Love can be so Inconvenient!

The morning was cloudy and a light rain hung in the air. The wind was picking up speed by the hour. I had just returned from a run and was cooling down on my back patio when I heard it–the sound of metal hurricane shutters scraping against each other. My neighbor Dave was trying to put up his shutters with tropical storm Isaac bearing down on us.

A privacy fence encloses my back yard so I knew Dave couldn’t see me sitting there. I sat there for a moment listening to him puttering about in his yard. Frankly, I was pooped from my run. I had run 5 kilometers and had treated it as if it were a race to see what my time would be. I sat there on the deck soaked in sweat. Working to hang hurricane shutters was the last thing I wanted to do.

Quietly I picked up my running shoes and socks that were lying on the floor next to my chair. I tip-toed into the house being very careful to open and close the patio door as quietly as possible. I did not want Dave to hear me sneaking back into the house. If he heard me, he would probably say hello over the fence. If he said hello, then I would have to acknowledge him. If I acknowledged him, then I would have to offer to help him. And that was the problem. I really didn’t want to help. It was Saturday morning, I was tired from the run, and I just wanted to lie on the couch for a while and enjoy a cup of coffee.

I patted myself on the back as I quietly closed the patio door behind me. I plopped down into a comfy chair, took a swig from my water bottle, and wiped the sweat from my face with a towel. And that’s when I heard it. It was not the sound of Dave’s hurricane shutters clinking together as he carried them around the yard. No, it was my conscience screaming at me. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING? GET OFF YOUR LAZY BUTT AND GO HELP YOUR NEIGHBOR.”

My conscience can be so rude.

And that’s when it struck me, love can be so inconvenient!

I had my plan for what I wanted to get done that day. I had my list, my priorities. But then there was this inconvenient storm named Isaac bearing down on us and my neighbor needed some help. I could either sit on my couch and wait for him to come and ask for my help, or I could get off my couch and go offer to help. Which one looks more like love to you?

This is why I say that when you love someone, everything changes. See, I love my neighbors, Dave and his wife Mary Lou. I really love them. And love makes you do things even when it’s inconvenient.

So I got up, changed out of my running clothes and into some work clothes, still stinky and sweaty. I went to the garage and got a pair of gloves and a couple of cordless screwdrivers. Walking across the yard, I could hear the sound of clinking hurricane shutters from the other side of Dave’s house.

Now, I know I am not alone in this. This tendency to look the other way when someone is in need is buried deep inside of us. Jesus talked about it as well. Here’s what he said:

“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” (Luke 10:30-37 ESV).

We hear this story and we think “I would never do that. I would never just walk on by when someone is in need.” But is that reality? Or are you like me and find that sometimes love can be so inconvenient?

As I write this, the tropical storm has long since passed us and now hurricane Isaac is pounding the Mississippi delta. In the midst of this storm there will be countless opportunities for followers of Christ to show the love of God to their neighbors. But I wonder how many will be like me and sneak away, hoping no one will notice, busy with their own plans and agendas, or just lazy.

Maybe you breathed a sigh of relief as you read this because you do not live anywhere near the area being affected by hurricane Isaac. The reality is that multitudes of unnamed storms are swirling all around you, right where you live. The neighbor across the street who just found out her husband is having an affair needs someone to love on her. The neighbor down the road who just found out he has terminal cancer needs someone to love on him. The mother struggling with a wayward child is in a storm and needs someone to love on her. The co-worker in the cubicle across from you who is losing his home is in a financial hurricane and wondering if he will survive. Storms are swirling all around us. Will we take time to help or will we just walk on by? Who will be the neighbor who sees the need and then goes out of the way to help, even at personal cost? Remember, love can be so inconvenient!

For months now, I have been trying to communicate the importance of loving God with utter abandon and selflessly loving others. It is the heart of what Christ calls us to do. But love is more than just an emotion. It should be an action. It should be lived out in the dirt and grime of our everyday lives where it is not all clean and tidy. It should be lived out where there is storm debris strewn about. That’s where love is revealed best.

Dave and I finished hanging the shutters in record time. Later, I got a text from my pastor. A woman in our church needed help boarding up a window that had broken. In the text he was wondering if I were home and if I were available to help. I put my gloves and the cordless screwdrivers in the trunk of my car and gathered what supplies I could find. Thunder rumbled in the distance as I put the key in the ignition and backed out of the drive.

Love can be so inconvenient!

Till next month,

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  • August 31 – September 3 – Hickory Corners, Michigan
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