When I walked out of the travel agency, I felt a wave of relief and excitement about my family’s upcoming European vacation. You may wonder how one could feel anything but excitement about traveling abroad, but days earlier as I sat eagerly at the computer to create an awesome itinerary for this once-in-a-lifetime family trip, excitement quickly turned to anxiety and in a matter of minutes, I was overwhelmed.
Sometimes there are simply too many options. Even with a clear window of time and one pre-selected destination, I found myself tangled in the World Wide Web – frozen by a seemingly infinite number of possibilities.
Travel agents aren’t exactly en vogue anymore, but it was abundantly clear that what I needed most of all – in order to insure the success of this family investment – was help.
When it comes to housekeeping, I can use all of the help I can get. Every couple of weeks I write a check for the young mom who helps me keep my house clean. If you know me at all by now, you know that hanging around the house isn’t really my thing, which makes housekeeping something of a four-letter-word in my world. By seeking help in the areas that challenge me the most, I am freed up to provide help in the ways I am uniquely equipped to do. This check that I write is part of the help I can give and in turn, I am blessed by the help I receive.
Paul talks about this as being part of God’s plan (the helping-one-another-part, not necessarily related to keeping house):
“Once the commitment is clear, you do what you can, not what you can’t. The heart regulates the hands. This isn’t so others can take it easy while you sweat it out. No, you’re shoulder to shoulder with them all the way, your surplus matching their deficit, their surplus matching your deficit. In the end you come out even. As it is written, nothing left over to the one with the most, nothing lacking to the one with the least.” 2 Corinthians 11b-14 (the Message)
My deficits are many and include travel planning and housecleaning, but God has given me plenty of things that others need. Your deficits are an opportunity for me to invest my plenty in ways that make us both better people and faithful stewards of what has been entrusted to us.
According to author Ann Lamott, help is one of the three essential prayers (Help, Thanks, Wow copyright 2012 by Ann Lamott, Riverside Books):
“We say, Help, this is really all too much, or I am going slowly crazy, or I can’t do this, or I can’t stop doing this, or I can’t feel anything. Or, Help, he is going to leave me, or I have no life, or I hate the one I’ve created, or I forgot to have a life, or I forgot to pay attention as it scrolled by. Or even, Help, I hate her so much, and one of my parents is dying – or will never die. Unfortunately, we haven’t even gotten to the big-ticket items yet: cancer, financial ruin, lost children, incontinence.”
On any given day, our prayers for help cover a lot of ground. As I sit here this morning, already I have asked God for help in at least a dozen situations pertaining to my life and those I love. And I believe He hears our cries for help! But here’s the rub…
God answers our prayers. Yup, that’s the rub.
God answers our prayers, but instead of zapping us with holy help in a cloud of fire and mystery and miracle, the help that comes from the Lord almost always comes through people. This messes with those of us whose pride and privacy issues serve to keep others at arm’s length.
We post no trespassing signs around our lives and pray that God would help us with our needs… And then we wonder what’s taking Him so long.
What’s wrong with this picture? Today some of us need to Want What We’ve Got – which may very well be a need for help. Until we are willing to receive God’s help through people, or to be God’s help to people, we won’t be positioned to receive the answers to our prayers that God is eager and ready to give.
Daily Questions: Have you been crying Help and then waiting for lightning to strike? How might God be trying to answer your prayers through the people around you? Are you willing to let your need be known so that God can rally His troops? If you are equipped to be the answer to someone’s prayers, are you paying attention to the needs of those around you? Will you act to meet those needs when God calls?