When I was diagnosed with Cancer in 2008, I had so many people say to me, “let me know if you need anything”. These people were caring, compassionate Christ-followers who genuinely meant it when they said it.
While there was a lot of things that we needed, from help with the kids, to runs to the grocery, we only let those closest to us, mostly family, lend a hand. To everyone else, we just replied, “thank you, we will.” But we didn’t.
I should have gave people the opportunity to be a blessing to us. But I didn’t want to put them out. I didn’t want to spend their valuable time doing menial tasks for us. There were better things that they could do with their time.
I was wrong denying people the opportunity to bless us. But i’m not alone. Am I?
In fact, to almost every person I say, “let me know if you need anything”, I never hear back from them. And as I observe this going on in the church, we all play the same game. No one actually replies with, “Yes, I need help with this….”.
And to be honest, sometimes I say that phrase, hoping they don’t ask me to do anything. But I say it, because that is what I am supposed to say. It is the courteous Christlike thing to say. Right?
Wrong. When we look at Jesus, we don’t see courtesy, we see action. In Mark Chapter 1, in what many people say was Jesus’ longest day of ministry, it is recorded that Jesus met the needs of all those in the town.
Mark 1:29-34 As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. 30 Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. 31 So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up.The fever left her and she began to wait on them.
32 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.
Jesus put his teaching into action, and demonstrated to us that our faith requires action. As James says, we need to be doers of the Word.
Saying “let me know if you need anything”, when we know someone needs something is just wrong. It makes us feel better about ourselves. We want people to know that we care, but caring isn’t enough.
If we follow in the footsteps of Jesus, we should do something. Send a card, make a meal, drop off some groceries, make a visit or a phone call.
Back in 2008, we were blessed by many people who acted. Larry and Cindy got us a Nettflix subscription. Mike called and talked to me about World of Warcraft, and other geeky things, just to get my mind off of the treatments. Vicki, Sherry, Jeanne, and Adona did so much to help our family with the day-in, day-out things. Friends taking Stacy out for coffee so she could get some breathing room. People from the Church dropped off meals. Jon, Angie, Dave, and Betsy took us out to dinner and didn’t act embarrassed by my bald-head, and my bloated face (see pic below). Jon writing a song for me “rescue me”. John and Sean came over on Sundays and turned me into a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. John watching every episode of Ultimate Fighter at my house every Wednesday during chemo. And there were so many more acts of kindness. Not solicited, just people acting out of love. I am grateful for all the people who did something.
And the one that sticks out the most to me, as I look back on those days was the picnic in the front yard.
Picnic in the front yard.
On a Sunday that I couldn’t be at church, the church showed up on my front yard and had a picnic. They just invaded. Not one person bothered us. No one knocked on the door. They just put out their blankets, and pulled out their food and ate. I’m not sure what the neighbors thought. But I remember what I thought – wow, these guys really love me.
Now here is the thing.
I still say, “let me know if you need anything”. I haven’t learned and I feel awful about it. I should have had a picnic in someone else’s front yard while they were having a hard time. But I haven’t. I should have gone the extra mile for those in my flock. But I haven’t.
In this new year I propose a change.
That phrase isn’t good enough anymore. I can do better. We can do better.
I am not going to say, “let me know if you need anything”, at all during this year. Anytime I feel the urge to say it, I’m going to pray about how I can do something to bless them. Who is with me?
If you are willing to join with me to put an end to saying “let me know if you need anything”, let me know by adding a comment on Facebook, or send me a message.