The Boldness to Bless
I am reluctant to offer much from my own life as an exemplar of blessing, but now and then life blends in such a way that a living example seems appropriate. Before we get to that, we need to acknowledge that it is a steep learning curve that we’re on in respect to blessing those who’ve cursed us. But enemies are not the only people who need a blessing. Our families and friends need our kindness and good words as well. Moreover, there is a large assembly of people who fit none of the above categories. They’re not friends. They’re not family. They’re not enemies. The Scriptures call them strangers.
There is quite a lot that the Bible has to say about that, but we’ll just have a look at this one passage: You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.~Deuteronomy 10: 19 This of course is just another variation of the Golden Rule. That one says we’re to treat others as we’d like to be treated. This one says that we’re to treat others as we’ve been treated by God. It is a “pay it forward” theology.
So, back to the story. This morning I dropped by a convenience store to buy a couple of waters for the thirsty day ahead. Ever hopeful of truth in advertising, I purchased two Smart Waters! As I exited the store I heard the plaintive wail of a human being undone by grief. I looked around and sized up the situation. There was an elderly woman trying her best to comfort a young man. There is often a natural shyness involved when we come upon situations like these. Ministry has not inured me of that shyness. I could very well be the preacher in the Good Samaritan Story who scurried past the suffering stranger in the ditch. I started up my truck and was determined to do just that. I didn’t want to get involved. But my truck seemed to will itself to stop at another parking spot. I began to pray, argue and voyeuristically observe the scene through my rearview mirror. My body felt like wet cement. I finally said, “Okay Jesus. You win. Let’s do this.”
I grabbed my chaplain tag from Durango Fire & Rescue and walked over and asked the young man if he was okay. As he began to process this total stranger in his midst, I just held up my arms in an open embrace. Much to my surprise this tall, muscular young man moved in, crushed me in a hug and continued weeping. I asked what had happened. He told me that he and his wife had just received the news that their unborn baby was dead – dead in the womb. She was sitting in the car crying. I asked if I could offer a prayer. The “not to be” grandma and the young man agreed. So, in a convenience store parking lot we prayed. It was a thing of tragic beauty.
As I said my goodbyes, the young man followed me to my truck and said: “My mom just told me that God would send help. She just told me that. I can’t believe you showed up out of nowhere.” I was a little stunned myself.
I don’t always get these things right. A number of times I’ve been so agenda driven that I’ve sped past human tragedy. But not this day. The Lord taught me today to forget the vanity of being thought the fool or a busybody and just wade in. Strangers need blessings too. I hope you’re encouraged to give it a go as well.