I like to keep things real. Here’s a true confession: along my pebble-throwing journey I’ve discovered that loving others can sometimes be unpleasant and inconvenient.
It was late summer, a week or two before my daughter’s launch from our nest to begin her college years. Shopping for clothes in a heatwave had left my mom, daughter and I parched. When the coffee shop barista prepared an extra iced coffee the sweaty, shoeless man we’d passed a few stores back flashed into my mind. I grabbed the drink, dove back into the wall of heat and humidity and headed down the street.
I found him with eyes closed, stretched out on the bench in front of the upscale downtown shops.
“I’m not sure if you even like cold coffee,” I extended the drink to him, “but the Starbucks lady made us an extra. Would you like it?”
He opened his eyes and smiled. “Thank you ma’am. Yeah, I’ll take it. It’s not really my thing but I’ll drink it.”
I blessed him and went on my way hoping it would raise his spirits and lower his core temperature in the midst of the brutal August humidity. It made me feel good but didn’t really cost me a thing.
Days later, while rushing to get out the door to a morning meeting, I sweat bullets as I dressed. I threw a clip in my hair and fanned my perspiring face. Then it hit me—my neighbor’s late night text.
“My A/C is out. I may need to borrow your fan in the morning.”
She also needed a place for her guinea pig to hide out from the heat.
At the risk of subjecting myself to hate mail from all the animal lovers reading this, I admit that I’m not an animal person. And I’m definitely not a rodent person.
I didn’t want my neighbor’s guinea pig in my house. I didn’t want to stop my already rushed morning routine and risk being late for my meeting. (I detest being late; just ask my kids.) I didn’t want to negotiate this minor inconvenience. But I knew what I needed to do. I texted her a quick note to check in.
Yes, she needed the fan and yes, she was bringing her guinea pig over right away.
She came. We got her roden… ahem, I mean her pet set up in my bedroom. She said her goodbyes and I tried not to look at my watch. She left. I wiped my brow, rushed to my car, and zipped out of my neighborhood.
On the way to church, it nearly gagged me. My selfishness.
A knot rose in my throat as I listened to the Holy Spirit. Serving others isn’t about how we feel. It’s a choice. Serving often involves inconvenient choices and laying down our very lives. Laying down what is inconvenient and hard and comfortable and logical.It wasn’t logical for Jesus to wash His disciples feet. That was dirty servant work. Stinky work. Not pleasant and surely not Jesus’ first choice of how to spend his time.
And certainly, dying on a cross was the furthest thing from convenient. And was it ever costly. It cost Jesus everything.
Unlike the coffee I gave to my homeless friend that cost me absolutely nothing.
Maybe when God prompted me to help my neighbor, He was upping the ante to draw out my reaction and expose a dark place in my heart. My reaction wasn’t what I’d hoped. But my Heavenly Father isn’t only a God of second chances. He’s a God of new daily mercies and compassion. A Father who is gentle and more than willing to teach his selfish, stumbling children how to wash stinky feet with all their heart.
I pray that as He sends more homeless people to love, neighbors to serve, and feet to wash that I’ll learn the holy art of being inconvenienced for Jesus’ sake.
How about you? Join the conversation by sharing the uncomfortable, inconvenient things God might be asking you to do.