2345In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you: proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favourable or unfavourable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. As for you, always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully." 2 Timothy 4.1-5
I was almost out the door to the coffee house where I write my sermons on Thursday when the phone rang. Do I answer it? Yes.
"This is Guy"
'Guy' is someone who's come to us for aid before. He's not taking advantage of us - I bought him a tank of gas a few months ago and he mailed a check after he got his paycheck the next week. But I was in a hurry.
"How are you, Guy?"
"I'm pretty good. But my wife is on her way home from Minnesota, and the weather is gonna keep her up there overnight, and we're out of food. My daughter is diabetic, and I don't have a car. I was wondering if you or someone you know could give me a ride to the grocery store. I've got money - I just don't have any way to get there."
*sigh* I don't have time for this. I don't want to waste the next twenty minutes driving Guy around. I need to get to work on my sermon. Maybe one of the students could do it? [looking around - no students in the building] *sigh*
Guy lives in a run-down apartment building less than six blocks from our house. That six blocks might as well be six miles - the neighborhood visibly declines with each passing street. He's got four kids in that apartment with him and his wife. He is scratching by, worried about the economic times, but proud of his daughter, who's been hospitalized off and on for various health reasons in her short life. We talked about lots of things in the ten minutes of driving on our way to and from the market. His job. His past. What he hopes to do next. I hope he can make it, but I don't know if his plans will work. I'm just hoping things don't get worse for him and his family.
I shake his hand before he gets out of the car, and he thanks me for the lift. I tell him he's lucky he caught me, as I was just about out of the building. I don't tell him I didn't want to help him - I'm ashamed of it myself. Did I think the sermon was the thing today?
Paul wrote, "Carry out your ministry fully." God help me to remember what I'm sometimes trying so desperately hard to forget.