You’re hiking alone in the wilderness along a narrow trail in the foothills. Your goal is to get to the top of the hill where you’ll see a beautiful view of the surrounding wilderness. Up ahead, a small landslide has blocked the trail. You’ll need to be careful getting around this section and back onto level ground. As you work your way across the debris field covering the trail, a large rock slips from underneath your foot and you tumble down an embankment onto a small ledge twenty feet below the trail. Stunned by the fall, you take a moment to look around and discover what looks like a workable route back up to the trail. When you try to return to your feet, a jolt of pain sends you right back to the ground. Your right leg is clearly broken. There is no way for you to save yourself. You need help.
Every day, all around us, people are falling and landing in a situation from which they cannot save themselves. Some will linger on the ledge for hours, days, or weeks, waiting for someone to come along and provide assistance. Some will use extraordinary courage to fight their way back to the trail on their own and somehow stumble back to civilization. Others will succumb to the elements and die on that ledge just twenty feet below the trail.
Of course, if you came across a stranded hiker you’d do whatever you could to help, or you would somehow contact those who had the means to begin a rescue operation. However, this is not always the case in our daily lives. We see too many fallen souls. We can’t help them all. We need to protect our own well-being – conserve our resources – save what little we have to support our own family. Often precisely how to help is not always obvious and we simply don’t have the time to devote to solving all the problems we encounter. One stranded hiker in isolation is an easy to solve situation. Providing help to everyone we see who needs help, is a completely impractical scenario.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5 (NIV)
Imagine you built yourself a set of wings that allowed you to fly wherever you wanted to go. Would you use those wings only to entertain yourself, or would you also use those wings to help others? Certainly the ability to fly wherever you wanted go would be a useful tool in assisting others. You could help in search and rescue operations. You could help find stranded hikers. But why bother? Why not save your wings for weekend trips and leisurely soaring sessions in your free time? You might come to the conclusion that if everyone knows you have wings and can fly, you’ll be constantly badgered with request for help of some kind. Having wings would then become more like a job than a source of joy.
The truth is we all have wings of some sort. We all have talents and resources that can be used to solve other people’s problems. The truth is most of us would like to help all the stranded hikers we come across. The truth is there’s another force in this world blocking our path with constant distractions. We are being told by our enemy that we do not have time; that we do not have enough to share; that we should hold back and protect our own interest. The problem with the enemy’s attack is some of what he’s telling us is true. We do need to manage our time and resources in a responsible way. The secret to circumnavigating the devil is to step out of the darkness into the light and join hands with Holy Spirit empowered followers of Jesus Christ. When believers stand together, the enemy’s distractions can be easily overcome.
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)
You don’t have to look very far to find faith-based organizations doing God’s work. The easiest way to put your talents and resources to work is to join in the effort of one of these organizations. All of our inadequacies melt away when we join a team that is already successfully supporting the needs of others. We can also join hands with other believers by forming a group at church dedicated to solving some local problem. Building a food bank for needy families, providing meals for the local homeless population, tutoring kids struggling in school, supporting Foster families in some way, or sponsoring a community cleanup project are just a few of the possibilities a small group of volunteers could tackle. When help projects are planned in this way, all the constraints on our time can be easily managed. Working together with other believers will make these tasks light work and a rewarding experience for everyone.
“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Romans 12:4-5 (NIV)
What would happen if every follower of Jesus Christ planned for one more hour of helping others this week? What would happen if small groups of believers dedicated to solving specific problems formed at every Christian church? What if there was a network of Christians dedicated to solving problems? What if the Internet could be used to connect those in need with those who have the talents and resources to help? What if we all had wings to fly? Could we find every stranded hiker and bring them home? With God, all things are possible.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 (NIV)
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