Timing is Everything
By: Susan Naslund
Timing is everything. We all have agendas for our days – “to-do” lists we know we will never accomplish – yet we squeeze as much as we can into our hectic lives. Whether we are working or are retired, caring for our young children or our aging parents, going to school or just trying to keep ourselves healthy, most of us complain of not having enough time. As a mother of two active teenaged boys, I find that much of my time is consumed by making sure we have enough food at our house. Not long ago as I was about to make dinner, I once again faced an empty refrigerator. I knew I needed to get to the grocery store, return home, and make dinner to eat when my husband got home from work so that we could all go our separate ways again. As I rushed out to the store, I looked down at the clock on my dashboard and calculated that I would have just enough time to accomplish this familiar feat.
As I looked up, I saw a woman on the side of the road. She was an elderly woman, using a walker to make her way down the street as fast as she could go. Her shoes were untied so that she could fit them on her swollen feet; her skirt billowed in the wind. She was off the sidewalk and dangerously close to traffic. Cars swerved and honked their horns as they drove by her.
As I passed, I heard God’s voice say, “Stop and help her.” So, I turned my car around, slowly pulled up beside her and rolled down the window. I said to the woman, “May I help you?” She quickly glanced down the street and said, “I just need to get to that bus stop over there. The bus will be here in five minutes. I can make it.” I looked in the direction she was pointing. I could see that she was definitely not going to make it to the bus stop in time at the rate she was going. I asked, “May I give you a ride to the bus stop?” She looked at me, and down the street, and then back at me, and said, “But I don’t know you.” I responded, “It will take an act of faith on your part, but I am happy to give you a ride.” She thought for just a second more, nodded and opened the door. I got out of the car, came around to the other side, and helped lift her heavy legs into the front seat. I stowed her walker in the back and looked up just in time to see the bus arrive, pause a moment, and leave. I got back in my seat, looked at my passenger and said, “Why don’t I just take you all the way home?” She gave me directions to her apartment on the other side of town. I gave up all hope of making it to the grocery store, took her home, and made sure she was safely in her apartment. Timing is everything.
Not long after that on a rather typical Sunday morning at our house, I was running late for church. I was especially concerned because I had between services duties on the patio that day. As I finally headed in the direction of Foothills, I looked down at the clock on my dashboard, and calculated that if I hit the lights just right, I would make it to church in time to get to take care of my assignment.
I looked up, and saw a woman on the side of the road. This time the woman was a young woman. She was sitting on the curb with her legs pulled up, her arms resting on her knees, and her head on her arms. I could tell she was sobbing. As I passed, I heard God’s voice say, “Stop and help her.” “But I’m late for church!” I thought and kept right on driving. It was not until some time later that the irony of the moment sunk in: I was in such a rush to get to do work at church, that I didn’t see that church work was right in front of me. Timing is everything.
I am not telling you these stories so that you will think I am a nice person for stopping to help the first woman, or to relieve the shame I feel for not stopping to help the second. I am telling you these stories to make the point that helping people takes a lot of time, often when we have the least amount of time to give. It is rarely convenient to help.
It is true that sometimes we do see the woman on the side of the road and stop to help. Other times we see the woman on the side of the road, and decide not to help. Probably more often than not, we don’t even see the woman on the side of the road.
That is why the Missions Committee at Foothills is so important to me. A wonderful group of people has put in a lot of time to give us opportunities to help. They have identified people and projects in our community that need our response. In 2014, I will answer the call to be the new chairperson of the Missions Committee, and I hope to find even more occasions to serve that will fit into our busy schedules. My prayer is that God will show us where and when we can be a blessing to others. I look forward to working along side you in mission. Timing will be everything!