Dr. Jon R. Roebuck, Executive Director
I was walking across campus today, minding my own business, making the trek from the parking garage to my office, both arms filled with stuff when it happened. I felt it before I even saw it. For some inexplicable reason, my right shoe decided that it had been tied long enough and it gave up the ghost. It just came untied. There was no place to stop, set down my load, and re-tie the shoe and so I shuffled my way to my office, fearful that my shoe was about to slide off my foot at any moment. I hate when stuff like that happens. Everything seems to be going along nice and smooth and then suddenly something changes.
For most of us the problem is greater than a shoe that won’t stay tied. Such a problem is easily fixed. It’s the other disruptions that tend to bring us more than our fair share of angst and worry. Take for example when the IRS sends a little note in the mail telling you that there were some errors with your return. Or what about the phone call from the auto repair place telling you that you need new rotors along with the brake pads? Or what about when the school nurse calls to let you know your sweet little daughter is throwing up like she could star in the new filming of The Exorcist? I always feel for the poor guy who has the wreck on the interstate during the morning commute. Obviously his day is not going to flow smoothly.
The disruptions will come. And when they do, our once, well-ordered lives struggle to find footing again. Let’s talk about the really big, life-altering kind of disruptions that sometimes land at our front door. What if the phone call is from your doctor and she tells you that there are some irregularities with the blood work? What if the market drops and suddenly your plans for retirement get put on hold for a few more long years? What if you get a call from a friend telling you that a former class-mate just ended his life? What happens when you are cruising along with your arms are filled with the constant baggage of daily routine and suddenly a huge storm blows into your life? What then? Where can you set down your load long enough to grieve and think and find shelter?
I think the key is in relationships. We simply cannot afford to walk through life all alone. Listen to the admonition of Scripture. “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10) We were made to live in community with each other. We were never meant to take on the disruptions by ourselves. It’s part of the reason that Jesus said when speaking about His departure from earth, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth.” (John 14:16-17) Through the work of His Spirit, God has made it possible for us to never be alone. His Spirit indwells our lives continually. We can never find ourselves in a place, no matter how dark, nor how scary, where the Spirit can’t minister to us.
But let’s be honest, as good as that promise is, sometimes we need flesh and blood to hold our hands, wipe our tears, and hug our necks. We need the Word to become flesh. In order to have such a person in our lives, we have to risk, invest, and offer compassion. We tend to gain friends as we offer ourselves to others in an act of friendship. And so we have to risk a relationship. We have to risk being vulnerable, being betrayed, and even being rejected. Not everyone is going to be the Godly person you need, but until you risk giving yourself away you will not find that one special relationship. We also have to invest. Relationships take time and effort. They take being inconvenienced at times or offering emotional energy at other moments. We tend to get out of a relationship what we put into a relationship. And yes, we have to offer compassion. Friendships are forged on the anvil of thoughtful deed and loving attention. And though many of us might boast in the number of Facebook friends we have on our social media accounts, we should really count ourselves blessed if we have those one or two people in the world who will always help, always pray, and always come to our aid.
You can count on life getting a little messy. Your world is going to get untied from time to time. I pray that when it does, your friends will be there to pick you up. And I also pray that when called upon to do so, you will be there to help your friend tie his shoe when his arms are too full and his life is too painful.