The other night we went to a party of sorts. It was a birthday party meets reunion party meets goodbye party. It was a buddy’s birthday, some old friends were in town and some other friends are returning back to Africa. So we gathered and it ’twas good.
Our buddy Ron walked his wife and kids out to their car to head home for night night because he decided to stay later and hold captive all these old friends in one big house. He asked if he could catch a ride home with us when we left and we gladly said yes.
When it came time to go home, my husband Rob drove, Ron rode shotgun, and Aidan, my ten year old son, and I sat in back on top of sour milk smelling, coat ridden, toy abundant seats. On the way to Ron’s, we got a text message from the birthday boy. Wouldn’t you know it-a selfie from one of our craziest friends with my son’s hat on! Apparently Aidan left his hat at the party and this picture was Colin’s way of trying to get us to come back and get it. “Ah we thought, it’s late…we can get it later.” We almost got to Ron’s street when he said, “I forgot Loa’s sippy cup.” Rob rebutted, as if that statement needed a rebuttal with “You have other sippy cups right? You don’t need us to drive allll the waaay back. Right?” Ron didn’t want to be in the doghouse any worse than staying later at the party might have put him there. Both Rob and I agreed that Ron should keep his wife happy because she took on bedtime so he could stay at the party….so we drove all the way back to for a silly sippy cup.
On our way home on a busy intersection in the dark, flashed the hazards of a car. It was stopped just short of the light with a young girl standing outside looking scared. We rolled down our windows and asked if she had help coming. She said “No, my phone died.” We pulled over and I switched with Rob so that he and Ron could push the car out of the way and I could move our car off the road. I circled our car around and we were all standing on the sidewalk outside of these apartments that people call the CrimeScene apartments. They are really called the Crimson Apartments. This neighborhood’s reputation might be an indication of why this girl looked a bit scared and unsure what to do. We surveyed what could be wrong. My husband said “You probably ran out of gas.” She said everything stopped working, her steering, everything as if to elude that it must be more than gas. Of course Rob says “It’s gas, it’s always gas.” So we look at her and say “You might not trust us, but we can give you a ride to the gas station and you can get a gas can and then we will bring you back and you can try that . Unless you feel uncomfortable?” I said “I used to work at a college ministry in town, maybe you’ve heard of it…I swear I am not creepy, but I understand if...” She peered into our back seat and said “I believe you guys are fine especially since you have a kid in the back” and in she hopped! (Note to the young ladies: Never trust someone who tells you they worked for a church. Run for your life. That’s creepy. And just because someone has a kid….hmmm) So here she is in our (might I remind you) sour milk smelling car. Only this time, Ron, Aidan and I are squished in the back and our new friend Margaret is riding shotgun. She starts telling us about the apartment she just moved into with a bunch of girls, how she is from Alaska, what her major is and how her first week of classes were. She explained she was just babysitting, her phone died and she knew she was low on gas but thought she could make it. (We always think we can make it. What is that E for anyway?) It is clear that Margaret is a sweet, pretty, kind college student who was just on her way home on a Saturday night and found herself in a pickle.
We took her to the gas station, where Rob filled the can. While we were waiting for them, my often beyond his years in spiritual wisdom and before his years in common sense son, says “Hey- we wouldn’t have been here to help this girl if it wasn’t for the sippy cup.”
Rob and Margaret hop back in, we drive back to her car and they give the tank a sip as if to hydrate. In no less time, Margaret’s car starts and out the open door, she yells “Thanks!” We say “You take care!” and run across the street, get in the car and return Ron home to his beloved wife, sippy cup and all!
What Aidan observed really struck me. We honestly were tired. It was late. Our kid needed to go to bed. Sippy cups are a dime a dozen. But we bent. It’s not a big bend. It’s not monumental. But a friend wanted to run back for something and so we did it and honestly should have done it more obligingly. But because we were inconvenienced once, we got inconvenienced twice. And those inconveniences turned out to be a blessing. A blessing to others and to us.
It reminded me of the scripture where Jesus says in Luke 6:
To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tuniceither.Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back.And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
Elsewhere Jesus says:
“And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”
Jesus, Himself says here Be inconvenienced. If someone hits you, offer them another punching bag to strike, it’s called your cheek. If someone takes your ipod, offer them your ipad. If someone stands in front of you with a sign that says “420 God bless, anything helps”, Jesus says give to those who beg. If someone takes away your books, don’t demand them back, even if it’s the entire Harry Potter series. If someone forces you to go one mile, go two and push a broken down car across an intersection, drive a girl named Margaret who you don’t know to get gas and then fill her tank and send her home with a smile. Jesus said do that. Do that because you should live this:
As you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
Jesus doesn’t say only do that if you like the person. Or only do to others who can give back, only do to others who don’t smell, only do to others when it’s not bedtime, only do to others when people will see, only do to others when it will be returned, only do to others when its convenient. No, it is as if Jesus says: Be inconvenienced because you will be standing one day in the middle of an intersection with your hazards on, no cell phone power and no help and you will hope someone will be inconvenienced too.
We dropped Ron off and I yelled out the window “That was the best part of my night!” I didn’t say that because I didn’t have fun at the birthday reunion goodbye. I said that because there is no better feeling than helping people. Why is that? Because helping people is what we are made to do. And when we are doing what we are made to do, we feel good, alive, purposed! But you can’t help people if you are unwilling to be inconvenienced. So if you want that feeling you were made to feel, that “alive, my life has deep meaning and this moment was meant to be feeling” then you have to be willing to drive out of your way for sippy cups and Margarets. I am not always willing, but I am so grateful that our hesitation didn’t win out, but instead we gave in to the “out of the wayness” and we got to see through the eyes of a ten year old, just how God can use inconvenience. I am thinking Jesus knew what He was talking about and Maybe Aidan did, too.