Wednesday, June 30, 2010


I sometimes fear that my life is becoming increasingly self-focused.

Not so much that I'm ruled by a blatant selfishness, but that I'm constantly looking to my agenda. My to-do list. My needs. My claims.

The focus is on the tasks I need to accomplish and the goals I have set for that given period of time.

And then comes an interruption. And I hate interruptions. They throw off my plan, they throw off my goals, they are not part of my agenda. But what I've learned is that God is a big fan of working through these interruptions.

So, the other day, I was driving along headed towards a task I was very eager to accomplish. I was even excited as I pulled up to a stop sign did my 92% stop and in my peripheral vision caught the image of a man in an electric wheelchair on the side of the road.

. . . and as I began to pull forward I for the briefest moment I saw him push the tiny black joystick of the wheelchair forward . . . and not move an inch.

Immediately, I felt a near sense of dread. Within 3 seconds, I tried to convince myself he was fine, rejected that thought, and wished I'd just kept my eyes straight forward. So I looped around the next block and drove by again, just to check. And sure enough, he was sill in the same place, but I kept going and decided to do one more loop, just to make sure. And, of course, he was still there.

So this time, I pulled up and asked him if he was stuck and in a grizzled voice he told me he was and that I could go up two blocks to a store and ask someone he knew there to help him out.

So, I went on ahead, found the person and who told me he'd make a couple phone calls and take care of it. Then as I was about to leave the man turned and said to me, "His name is David."

Interruptions have names.

And his name is David.

I went back to tell David that his friend was coming and David started telling me how he got there. David, 50 years old with a gray beard, mumbled something about "she's going to be angry at me." David told me that the night before he'd gotten drunk then been trying to ride home but he ran into a curb and fell out of his chair onto the street. So David slept in the gutter until 7 am when a cop woke him up.

David looked the part of someone who'd slept on the curb. His pants were only about 3/4ths up. There was a strong scent of urine. David had several visible wounds in various stages of healing. And it was 10 am in Florida in the sun, so it was hot.

I asked David if there was a way I could push his wheelchair into the shade at least and after about 7 minutes of searching for the lever underneath the motor I found the "push mode", but it was not what I expected. I began to push, then pushed harder, then harder, and soon had my whole body weight leaned against the chair at a 45 degree angle and the chair began to inch forward. Instantly, I was covered in sweat, but within a couple minutes I had gotten David into the shade.

So David and I continued to make small talk for a couple minutes while I was totally preoccupied by questions I wasn't going to ask (but probably should have). What is his life like? How did it get this way? What does he need in this situation? What is the most loving thing to do? What time is it?

I can't give you any good answers to those first four questions, but I know I wish I hadn't been asking the fifth one.

So, David and I chatted. I asked if there was anything else I could do. Told him I couldn't buy him a beer (even though in that heat it sounded like a pretty good idea) and said God bless.

Chances are good that I will see David again. And its a certainty that very soon I'll be surrounded by more interruptions with names. I don't know what I'll say, I don't know what I'll do, but my prayer is that I'll turn to the One who loved me when I was gross and homeless and in a gutter, that I would receive His love and let it reflect off of me to others.

That we would increasingly be recipients and reflectors of the love of the Great Shepherd of the Sheep.

"May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." Hebrews 13:20-21


Chris said...

Good stuff. I love you.