God's Perfect Timing or Something Else?
I wrote a devotional a while back about having faith like a child. It's been published on a devotional site and my social media. At the time, my intentions were pure, but I had different thoughts as I re-read it recently. Let me explain.
In this devotion, I tell a story about a time my daughters and I went out to lunch. I was silently frustrated that the server brought my kids an adult-sized portion of food. (There was NO way they were going to eat all of it, not to mention the price difference!) After we finished, we boxed up our leftovers and walked to the car. When we got in the car, I was once again frustrated that my daughter's seatbelt wasn't working, and she had to climb over our boxes of leftovers (that were inconveniently in the way) and move to the front seat. (Is it time for a new car yet?) As we started driving, I fell victim to frustration once again when we were stopped at the world's longest red light. (Really?! I had things to do and people to see!)
This makes me sound greedy and self-centered – and looking back – I was. Well, I am. I am human.
I was so caught up in my own frustrations that I didn't notice a homeless man on the street corner until my daughter pointed him out.
She said, "Mama, he's hungry. We have to feed him. Mama, we have all these leftovers. We need to feed him." With a sincere smile on her face and without a second thought, she rolled down her passenger seat window and simply handed him the leftovers. She didn't even ask me – she just did it.
When I wrote this devotion, I thought the frustrating things bothering me were part of God's perfect timing. I suppose that could be true, but if God was so timely at that moment, then I have a lot of questions about the moments he's not. For example, he doesn't seem timely when a child dies, when people starve to death or live in chronic pain due to a lack of medical supplies and attention. What about times people are caught in the crossfire of war? What about all the times people are abused, kidnapped, rapped, or worse - murdered? I have difficulty believing that God's timing was perfect during my small moment yet seemingly absent when thousands of people suffer daily. I am a person of faith, and I don't think I will ever fully understand God. If you are reading this hoping for answers, I hope I didn't mislead you. I have nothing for you except more questions because my experience leaves me wondering - what if my encounter had nothing to do with God's timing? What if this moment was me blinded by my selfishness and my daughter simply being kind? You see, I was frustrated by things that I am privileged to have, and I was emersed in my self-centered thoughts. I didn't even notice the hungry man on the corner, and I was so caught up in my own world I probably wouldn't have thought to give him our food if I had noticed him. My daughter? She had quite the opposite reaction. She relentlessly pursued the person in need. She didn't care what was in her way - including the rule that she wasn't allowed to roll down the window. Her concern for that man far exceeded anything else at that moment.
Looking back, my daughter taught me something that day, and it wasn't her child-like faith like I explained in my devotion. Let's be honest; I don't know that she could even comprehend what faith was at her age. No, I think she showed this stranger and me something that every single person in this world longs for. I think she simply showed love and compassion.
If I learned any lesson that day, it was to be more like my daughter and get my head out of my ass to see the world around me.
So often, we let ourselves get in the way of showing others love and compassion. We get entangled in our own religious, social, and political agendas that we miss the message entirely. Even in our homes, with our neighbors, at our schools, and while we're at work, we often miss the moments right in front of us. Wherever we are we have an impact, and love and compassion are far too wonderful to let fall in the name of our selfish agendas.
With that said, I am left with one more question: What is getting in the way of showing love and compassion to those in front of you today?