Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Back again... experience with a homeless woman

The example of some friends has prompted me to start blogging a little again after almost two years away from it. I don't expect a big audience, but perhaps a few people will find it interesting, and if it's a choice between writing something to post and solving my 95th game of Sudoku, I think this is the better alternative.

An experience my wife and I had trying to help a homeless woman told me something about my own faith. We spent a number of days paying for a motel room for her while looking for resources in my neighborhood that might help her. Unfortunately none of the resources we identified met her exacting requirements, so in the end we had to stop and say that we had nothing to offer her. She was furious and called us a bunch of hypocrites who were a blot on the church.

We were rather angry at her behavior, but when I stopped to consider how often I do that kind of thing to God, I realized that this woman was only acting out in a different context what I do quite frequently in a more socially respectable fashion. I commonly go to God asking for help with strings attached. God must deliver His assistance in a way that does nothing to undermine my self-confidence, my comfort level, my social status and anything else I hold dear. When God offers his assistance (perhaps with instructions to apologize to my son or fast for a day), I am offended - this wasn't the sort of help I wanted at all; how dare He call Himself a loving God if he doesn't give me what I need in a way that meets my requirements.

Unfortunately, just as was true for the homeless woman, the requirements I set down for God's assistance are frequently the cause of my problem in the first place and are incompatible with its resolution. It was my self-confidence that got me in trouble with my son and created the situation where I needed to apologize to him. It was my slavery to food that caused my heartburn and lost for me most of a night's worth of sleep. If I go to God for help I need to set my conditions aside, for they are the very things that get me into trouble and so long as I cling to them I will remain in the trouble from which I am demanding deliverance.

No comments: