Thursday, June 27, 2013

Can I Help You?

While we did not need a map on Iona (even though we bought one), this scene played out dozens of times during our journey in London and Paris. Armed with maps and travel cards for the subway, we set out in search of a restaurant, shop or museum. There were times when we found our intended destination without much trouble, and there were other times when we felt tempted to bury our faces in the map once more. There were times when we felt certain that the route we took was the most direct route available, and there were other times when the blisters on our feet proved a detour or two had been in the making.

Near the end of our time in London, our feet were especially tired, and we were also reaching the point of being tired with each other when Craig asked if we could just take a bus home. "We don't know the bus system," I replied, "and we don't have a bus map." Craig pouted a bit while I pulled out the London Underground map once more, at which point a woman approached us and said, "May I help you?" "No, thank you," I quickly said before she asked where we were going. Craig told her the name of the hotel and she said, "Did you know there is a bus that will pick you up here and stop directly in front of your hotel?"

It was like a scene from "Touched by an Angel." I've never felt a prayer answered so quickly - even though I failed to ask Craig if he was praying or cursing that day. And I almost missed the blessing. Had this woman who was paid by the city of London to help tourists find their way not insisted on helping us by asking a second question, we would have walked several more blocks to get the Tube and then several more blocks from the Tube to our hotel, likely needing another Band-Aid.

Why do we so often refuse help when it is offered?

Why do we have a hard time accepting the assistance people long to give?

And more importantly, how often do we tell God "No thank you - I've got this," when God keeps promising to help us?

In Matthew 11, Jesus says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” 

Jesus promises help. 

Jesus longs to take our burdens. 

But we refuse his help more than receive it. We convince ourselves that if we rise a little earlier or work a little later that it will all turn out fine. When we are most stressed is when we are most likely to skip prayer or time devoted to listening to God. The times when we need God the most are the very times we fail to receive the good gifts of God. 


I saw a similar picture being played out yesterday morning as I was walking along the Union Station corridor. Three men and one woman all dressed in business suits were standing looking at three different maps. I heard one man say, "There's the Capitol so it must be around here." I stopped to ask, "Can I help you find something?" "No," one man quickly snapped. I walked a bit further and then turned around to see them still looking at a map. "They should have accepted my help," I thought to myself (okay, maybe I called them idiots for not receiving my help).

And then I wondered how often God says the very same thing.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own insight. In all ways acknowledge God and God will direct your paths," the writer of Proverbs shares. Why do we have such a hard time trusting - accepting help - receiving assistance?

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