Issue 4, Vol. 2
Lately, I have been pondering over the parable of the Good Samaritan. After Jesus had finished teaching about loving our neighbors, someone asked him, “Who is my neighbor?” The parable of the Good Samaritan was Jesus’ response. In that parable, a man who was traveling on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho was beaten and left for dead. Two religious leaders passed by him without even stopping. It was a Samaritan who offers him assistance. Reading the parable from a distance, it is so easy to become critical of those detached religious leaders for not getting involved. When I probe my own heart more deeply, however, I realize that humility is in order.
For example, what would I do if an opportunity to help someone comes up when I am tired or when I have other plans? The Good Samaritan didn’t have it on his calendar, “Tuesday after lunch, help beat up Jewish guy on the side of the road.” It was not a church program or a small group meeting either. The opportunity to love his neighbor interrupted the Samaritan’s schedule. Divine appointments, opportunities to love our neighbors, almost always come as unplanned interruptions. The question is whether we can love another individual enough to put our own agendas aside.
About five months ago I encountered such a divine appointment. I called my friend “Reuben” to invite him to our Tuesday Bible Study. Reuben couldn’t make it that evening, but wondered if I could pick him up after the Bible Study to take him to his mother-in-law’s house where his wife was recovering from her surgery. I said, “Sure.” When I got to “Reuben’s” house, his plans had changed. He had gotten into an argument with his mother-in-law and now was no longer welcome. While I was over at his house, I discovered the real reason for his call: “Reuben’s” washing machine had been broken several days prior and he planned to go to his mother-in-law’s house to do laundry. He took me to his laundry room. His wet clothes had been setting on the bottom of his washing machine tub for three days and they stunk. He was out of clean clothes. Then came the big ask: “Can you take me to the laundry mat tonight?”
Frankly, I was more than just a little bit irritated. It had been a long day for me, starting with my first meeting at 6:30 AM. Now it was getting close to 9 PM and I was tired. I just wanted to go home. I thought to myself, why couldn’t you have walked to the laundry mat sometime in the last three days? It’s less than a mile! Why didn’t you call me three days ago? Why didn’t you take your wet clothes out of the washing machine and hang them out to dry instead of leaving them in the washer for three days?! I was not looking forward to being at the laundry mat till past 10 PM. In my heart, however, I sensed that this was a divine appointment. So, reluctantly I went.
At the laundry mat, “Reuben” and I were able to talk for over two hours. He realized that he had no friends who would be willing to help him. We began to talk about his choice of friends and why he hadn’t held down a steady job in the last ten years. We talked about whether or not he thought God had a plan for his life. This was a conversation that could only be had at the Four Corner’s laundry mat at 10 PM. Since that evening, “Reuben” has hardly missed a Bible Study. One month later he gave his heart to Christ. Several weeks after that, he got a steady job. Recently, he began attending classes to earn his GED. He believes he will earn his GED by the end of May. Next, he plans to enroll at Louisiana Technical College to learn a trade. He has told me since, that our conversation that evening changed his life. It was almost a divine appointment that I missed.
Divine appointments are rarely scheduled. They are usually very inconvenient. Yet, all divine appointments are opportunities to love our neighbors.
And when we respond to these opportunities to love our neighbor, God changes two lives forever: theirs and ours!
Thank you for your prayers, encouragement, and your support.