Sometimes when I do something nice, it blows up on my faces.
This morning, as my wife and I were running on the sidewalk beside Lipscomb University, we came up behind this lady jogging with her dog. Naturally, she was going much slower than us, so we moved to the side closest to the street to pass her. Feeling sorry for putting us in danger by running so close the street, she stepped off the sidewalk into the grass to make it easier for us to pass. Within half a second of stepping off the sidewalk, she doubled over as if she had been slapped in the face and started yelling.
While being a servant and letting us pass, she ran right into a full-blown spider web. From her reaction, it wasn’t just one string of the web, but the entire thing – wrapped around one ear and across her face to the other ear. Of course, my natural reaction was to make sure she was OK, but she was wearing iPod headphones. Anything I said would have been muted by Lady Antebellum, so I turned, kept running, laughed, and brainstormed my next blog post.
I am sure that we can all think of something we did to help someone else in the past three months that did not go as planned. Sometimes these acts of service are spontaneous like helping someone carry groceries out to their car. On the other hand, these can also be premeditated and well-planned like a mission trip to the Philippines.
I say this because I worked at a church once that planned this mission trip for several months, and on the day of departure found out that there was a mix-up with their travel arrangement on the other side of the Pacific Ocean, and their trip was canceled. This group of teens and parents spent countless hours in prayer and preparation for this trip, and a travel mix-up shot the whole thing to pieces.
How do we recover from something like that?
Well, I’m sure it will be a while before that lady ever lets anyone pass her on the sidewalk. When things don’t go our way, it’s a perfect excuse to get out of doing it next time. We justify our inaction because it bombed the first time – what’s the use in trying again?
The good news about that group going Philippines is that even though their trip was canceled, they were able to go the following year. One family even helped start an orphanage over there. Sometimes our plans are only a piece of the big picture. For instance, that lady could have never imagined how her encounter with a spider web will impact thousands of people who hear about it.
If I stop because it doesn’t go my way, it keeps me from even being a part of the big picture. When things are important to us, we will go to outstanding heights to make it happen, but we tend to lose that tenacity when it comes to acts of service.
What would the world look like today if there was a healthy “competition” to help others?
Just look out for spider webs.