by Joanie Butman
The day I met my new friend, Max, was a banner day because just a few hours later I had another God incident. As a reminder, Max is the Good Samaritan I wrote about recently who helped me move a load of heavy items into my son’s apartment. Later that afternoon I was waiting for a mattress delivery. Surprisingly, the delivery truck arrived right on time - BUT without the bedframe. Unable to return the same day with the required item, I was forced to walk to the store and carry it home.
A queen-size bedframe isn’t the easiest item to carry along the streets of NY because of its size and heft. Struggling along, mumbling “scuse me, scuse” me as I forged a path through the crowds, I felt like Moses parting the red sea. I was colliding with people right and left because they were too busy looking at their phones to notice the large obstacle blocking their path. They’re called ‘deadwalkers’ – the zombie-like creatures walking around glued to their cellphone oblivious to their surroundings. It’s downright dangerous.
Finally, a woman approached and asked if I needed help. “An angel from Heaven,” I thought. “Maybe I’m not so different from Moses after all. My girlfriend jokingly refers to me as Joanie Moses, and I am directionally challenged.” I was tempted to respond with the cursory, "Thanks, I'm fine." However, anyone could tell I wasn't, so I gratefully accepted. I discovered Rita was a relatively recent transplant to Manhattan from a town not far from me in Connecticut, and we had mutual acquaintances. What are the odds in a city of over eight million people? She graciously carried one end of my burden as we made our way towards my destination. Her company made a difficult, mundane task a pleasant diversion. As I thought about it later, I wondered why I don't choose to answer more honestly when someone asks me how I am or if I need help. So silly. I'm cheating them as well as myself.
What’s the moral of this simple story? Burdens shared (whether physical, mental or spiritual) are lighter. We all have the capacity to ease the load of another. It may not require physical exertion as in Rita’s case; perhaps a listening ear or a quiet presence is all that’s required. The only ability you need is availability, and that’s something anyone can choose to offer. As Christians, it’s what Christ does for us and what we are instructed to do for others. “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
In order to satisfy this directive, we need to be open to God’s prompting. Then, when we offer what Rick Warren calls our S.H.A.P.E. (Spiritual Gifts, Heart, Aptitude, Personality, and Experiences) for God’s purposes, He will present opportunities where we can offer assistance. Don’t choose to go through life as a deadwalker. It’s hazardous for obvious reasons as accident statistics confirm, but it’s dangerous on a social level as well. It’s our shared humanity that connects us, not social media. You won’t find Christ on Facebook, Instagram or Linkedin, but you will find Him in the lives and faces of His people – especially those who are suffering. And let's face it, everyone's dealing with something.
Choose to look up and live.