I was in Moab last week with the young men in our local church group for a few days of fun in the sun. We had set up camp and the boys were organizing our living space for the next two and a half days so I took the opportunity to briefly scout out our camp ground. It’s a simple place on the outskirts of town with RV hook-up’s and tent spaces. It’s a steal if you want running water and a warm shower to wash off the red dirt at the end of a long, hot summer day of outdoor activities.
After a short, brisk walk around the entire perimeter of the camp, I was heading back to our designated camp ground when I noticed a woman walking towards me with that ‘deer in the headlights’ look that screamed ‘help me I’m lost.’
“Do you need help?” I asked as she drew near enough for me to ask the question without having to shout and alarm her. But my attempt to be helpful seemed to fall on deaf ears so I repeated my question. A little bit louder this time but again making sure to seem courteous.
This time the woman stopped, looked straight at me and said, “If I needed help I would have asked you.”
Stunned by her rude response, I stood rooted to the spot somewhere between annoyed and sad, the scales tipping more in the direction of anger. I just wanted to be helpful and my attempt at being neighborly was met with a coarseness that frankly I’m unaccustomed to.
It took every ounce of patience that I could muster to prevent me from making a bad situation worse – that is a bad habit of mine. My initial response was to give that woman a good ‘ol Samoan tongue lashing. But I persevered and found the strength to walk away and let the steam roll off my scalding, freshly shaven pate. Understand that it is against my nature to withdraw when someone is confrontational, especially when I have a strong opinion or conviction about something or someone. So to walk away without offering even a slight comical retort was a major, albeit a painful win for me.
And yet here is the agonizing truth about that haphazard encounter and what I suppose to be a fundamental flaw in my character – I will do it again. I will ask a random stranger if they need help if they look like they are struggling. I will ask my friends, my family, my co-workers, anyone I come upon whom I discern might need some assistance because that is what I believe in. I have no desire to spearhead a movement to change the world I just want to help people because that’s what I was taught to do.
It is not easy. I am uncomfortable asking people if they need help because that is what our society teaches us today – self-preservation. But I would rather be uncomfortable and rejected knowing that I tried to do something good, than wonder for the rest of my life if I could have done some good for someone but was too caught up in my own head to notice, acknowledge and take action. I will cry over spilt milk, literally and figuratively because missed opportunities are a waste.
I’m trying to be a better person in every aspect of my life. I don’t always succeed but it motivates me to try harder. I try to serve someone every single day, even if my offer to serve is rejected. I encourage you to find some time to do something good – a random or intended act of service. We’re all lost sometimes or know someone who is lost spiritually or physically and needs help. We just all need to ask better questions even when it is uncomfortable – ‘Are you lost?’ ‘What can I do to help?’
Every day is a good day to serve others.