It was on the way home from a picnic–I was in the van with the children, and we were stopped at a traffic intersection on a slight incline. The pick-up in front of me was full of boards (full meaning the entire back up to the bed cover), and the tailgate was down because that was the only way for the boards to fit lengthwise.
(Y’all might be able to guess where this is going…)
When the light turned green and we both accelerated, the boards slid out of the back of his truck and right into the path of our van. I slammed on the brakes, squealed some tires, and stopped just inches from the boards. At the same time I watched in the rear-view mirror as the guy behind me half-turned so he wouldn’t rear-end me. The truck and boards and my van were all now in the middle of a busy intersection, and I sat there, gripped the steering wheel, and took a few deep breaths.
As I looked up, the driver of the truck got out, shook his head and threw his hands up to his hat, ripped it off and raked his fingers through his hair. The desperation on his face was palpable. I smiled and gave him a couple thumbs up to let him know I was okay and that somehow it would all be okay. The guy behind me moved back, so I could reverse out of the intersection, turn on my hazards, and watch the line of cars on my right side fly around me.
I wasn’t sure what to do. Should I leave the kiddos in the car and help him? Should I pull over and into a bank near us and help? Fact is, I was stuck by cars behind and beside me.
Then it happened…
I saw a man on my left run up to the intersection. He was a friend from the picnic we had just attended who had parked alongside the road. He started picking up boards and loaded them back on the truck. The driver’s paralysis ended, and he clapped him on the back and began to pick up the boards, too.
That’s all it took.
From every angle people left their cars in the middle of the road, parked at the gas station near us, and ran from inside buildings nearby. Within minutes, the truck was loaded. The driver grinned and shook hands and nodded his head and thanked everyone, and I cried (I know y’all are surprised by that one).
All I could think about on the way home was the beautiful picture of community I had just seen. I thought about the family I have surrounding me, about the friendships I cherish, about the strangers who have made themselves part of my life because they care.
Y’all, isn’t this what it’s about? Walking alongside the ones who are needy and hurting and struggling?
It’s about helping the lost and confused, the ones who are running their fingers through their hair and wondering how they are going to pick up the pieces of the messes they leave on the roads of their life. It’s stopping our lives for a moment to carry a load they can’t lift themselves. It’s stepping into the busy intersections of their lives and risking ours to care, all the while knowing we might get hurt in the process.
It’s being Jesus’ hands and feet and heart.
THAT is what many have been to me. THAT is what I long to be for others.
It is community work.
Trust me, I know. Because without my community, I would still be standing in the middle of the street, shaking my head, staring at the mess and wondering how on earth I was going to live this life.
And I ask myself, “Am I willing to be the one? Am I willing to start? Am I willing to take the risk and step out in faith to help and have others follow?”
Am I willing? Am I searching for ways within the limitations of my suffering to still reach out?
It is the work I am called to do if I call myself a Christian.
It’s hard work. It’s sacrificial work. It’s time-consuming work.
But it is good work. It is necessary work. It is beautiful work.
“Carve your name on hearts, and not on marble.”
(~Charles Haddon Spurgeon)