I was in a hurry to finish this book “The Reformer’s Pledge” but when I reached the chapter by Heidi Baker, “Stopping for the One,” I just had to pause somewhere between its first few pages.
There is something about an anointed book read at the right time. The words sink in and begin a flicker inside you that you cannot ignore. But when I reached this chapter, the words bounced against my heart instead, like waves against a wall. I wondered if there was something wrong with me. The things Heide was saying were so simple and familiar. She talked about how true compassion means to grab each and every opportunity to love, no matter how inconvenient and seemingly small, simple, insignificant.
On the contrary, my lack of love has made me inclined to brush aside little opportunities to give that come along my way. I question the ability of small gifts to actually impact people’s lives. But I gradually realized that that this only shows that I’m not really moved by compassion but by a desire for accomplishment. A loving heart would be eager to express love at every little opportunity. Until this point, I guess what I have is a very religious (mis)understanding of what love means.
There is a danger in sophisticated theology, the kind that keeps one behind a pair of spectacles that waits to critic little things that people moved by compassion do. There is a repulsive odor that comes out when our strict theological guideposts launch us to blabber mode and hinder us from soiling our hands with mud, failure and meekness.
Days after putting my reading on hold, I saw an elderly man limping with a stick to a Catholic church. I was was walking briskly to catch a ride going to work. He was walking slower than a turtle… obviously in pain. We were walking towards the same direction and long before I overtook him, I thought I should offer to pray for him. But I soon overtook him and he was behind me. So I walked and walked and walked and stopped. I turned around and saw him still barely able to lift one foot after another. He had to slide his shoes, literally two centimeters forward at a time. “Oh God, Holy Spirit, I don’t feel courageous but do give me the courage that I need before I reach this man as I now walk…one and two and three.” I swear I would have closed my eyes if I could do that without stumbling.
He had the most unusual response to my smiling offer for prayer. First reaction was an angry “No.” Hell no, I don’t need it. Or maybe “Hell no you might be a thief.” I could only guess. He could have said “Shooo..” That was how it felt. Then when I insisted that it’s for free and God can heal him, he said he’ll just pray in the church and he gave me a look that made me wanna laugh. It’s a “Hell you are spooky weird, lady” look. So I just said “God bless you and have a great day!” and that made him look happier. Then I was off to get that ride to the office, half happy and half disappointed that he had not said “Yes.” But what can I say, it really was too abrupt an offer at half past 6 am!
I am desperately displeased with the condition of my heart. I am not sad. I do not feel condemned. I know God loves me relentlessly but I am dissatisfied at how shallow and conditional my love is. I want people healed but I am not willing to pray for them!
I am on the next season of my life and one more time, I am looking for a job job, something with a pay that is not too embarrassingly low given my expensive university education yet hardly expert experience in my chosen field, because I have spent most of my years looking for old limping men who do not want prayer. I don’t know what that means but that’s just how it feels.
The world is not about to figure out who Jesus is on its own. But I am also not about to figure out what it means to not have something to spend because I had kept on hoping someone would just hire me to pray for people the whole day. Because truth be told, I am not as compassionate as I once thought I am. Maybe, I really cannot pray for people the whole day that’s why nobody has given me that job offer. Or maybe I really didn’t want to, that’s why I have not created such a job post.
I don’t know, Heidi, but I am hopeful that I would someday get this right, in hopes of more smiling old men rather that those that run away. In the mean time, I’m off to find an office to rush to every morning. And maybe there will be by the roadsides, a passersby awaiting some free prayer.