Thursday, June 9, 2011

Hello, Hello Again

"Hello."
"Hello?" I responded.
"Hello." Then conversation erupted intended not for me but a voice at the end of the cellphone. A woman two stalls down in the airport terminal bathroom ignored my friendly greeting.

Did I feel foolish? Yes. I did. Very much so. You idiot, she's talking on her cell phone. However, in the seconds before I realized my neighbor was not speaking to me I became excited. Hopeful. Allow me to explain.

Several years ago I entered a bathroom stall in a beach park. I entered feeling fine but realized in short order I had a very sick stomach. My husband stood by outside the door with nary a clue that his wife could not leave the humble abode lest hold her head up without the help of her hands because of an unrelenting dizzy spell.

I had hoped in those interminable moments (which turned into just short of an hour) for someone to enter the bathroom and ask, "Are you okay?" No doubt, anyone entering could hear my sighs let alone smell my dilemma (sorry). However, my pride kept me from asking for help. The stall doors slammed open and shut, open shut, slam, click and lock. Water hit porcelain as the paper towel machine repeatedly creaked  as women in bare feet, women in flip flops, women with children in bare feet, women with children in flip flops entered and exited. You get the idea. Other than the stall door movements, bathroom noises and foot traffic, I sat and suffered in silence.

After I was able to once again place my feet on terrafirma, splash my perspiration-drenched face in cold water and exit the bathroom, I made a vow. Not just to myself (that would be too easy to get out of as I often lie to myself) but to God. God, if ever I hear a woman in a stall that even remotely sounds like she needs help I am going to ask her if she is alright and ask, "Do you need help?"

I thought nothing again of that promise - that is until the bathroom in the airport terminal.

Back to that day. After my first response to "Hello," I waited expectantly for a response. Maybe this was the day that the Lord would use me to bring comfort to someone who was in need. When I realized this woman was not talking to me but was talking on a cellphone, I felt foolish and slightly disappointed but was reminded that I was only responsible to be available. What God does after my obedience is His business.

Who doesn't know the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37? In this parable Jesus tells the people basically (I am paraphrasing) to love the Lord with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself." So a man asks, "Who is my neighbor?" And in Jesus-fashion (love it) Jesus tells a parable (a story with a lesson to demonstrate an important Truth) about the Good Samaritan.

I challenge you to read the parable and come on back. Do it now. Why not?

It did not matter who the man was in need of help. The man was in need. Period. And because of who the passersby were and who the man in need was, the man was ignored. The story of the Good Samaritan dispels the lie that some of us are more important that others. We are all important to God!! See this website for a breath of fresh air....

In the story of the Good Samaritan the man in need was not overtly asking for help (he was half dead). I wonder how the story would have been different if he was able to ask for help. In my case, I was able to ask for help and failed to ask because of my pride. If I had let my husband know that I was in pain, he may not have been able to help me at that time, but at least he would have known what was taking me so long and could have prayed for me outside the door as I endured wrenching stomach cramps. But I did not ask so I did not receive.

Oh God that we all learn to ask for help, to trust that You will send the Good Samaritan to us so that we do not have to suffer in silence. Lord, impress upon Your children - to be servants for You no matter where our feet take us and not just walk on by because of convenience or because we refuse to believe Jesus's definition of "neighbor" as "anyone we happen to come in contact with."

Thank you Lord for that woman being in the airport terminal that day in that stall. I thank you that she was not in pain but just enjoying a conversation with a friend. Bless her now. I pray she knows that whenever and wherever she is when she speaks Hello to You that You will respond, "Hello. How are you? What can I do for you today?"

Thank you for the Good Samaritan and for reminding us that You will give us those opportunities to help and be helped as long as we are open to making friends in the least expected places!
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