When was the Last Time You Made a Truly
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve,
and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45
I’m sure my desire to help folks with disabilities emerged from watching (and helping!) my mom and dad take care of my disabled grandma. She had to have both legs amputated. Eventually my mother also became disabled. Thirty years ago, I was rendered disabled myself for a time, while recovering from brain surgery. All combined, I have a tremendous compassion for those with disabilities. And I’ve found I don’t have to look far to find people who need a little extra help.
Jesus tells us, “The King will reply, I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” Matt. 25:40. Whether it’s opening the door for someone in a wheelchair, taking a meal to a shut-in, helping an older person with his groceries, or even fetching a ball for a small child, there are so many opportunities to help “the least of these.”
Every day we make choices of whether we will show compassion or walk on by. Every day we make choices of whether we’ll give a lift up or a put down. Every day we make choices of who we’ll serve. I honestly can’t remember where I heard the following story, but I’ve tried to retell it as best I can. I think it beautifully demonstrates the power of choices we make everyday:
A Wonderful Choice
At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves learning-disabled children, the father of one of the school’s students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended.
After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question. “Everything God does is done with perfection. Yet, my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do. Where is God’s plan reflected in my son?”
The audience was stilled by the query. The father continued. “I believe,” the father answered, “that when God brings a child like Shay into the world, an opportunity to realize the Divine Plan presents itself. And it comes in the way people treat that child.”
Then, he told the following story: Shay and his father had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, “Do you think they will let me play?” Shay’s father knew that most boys would not want him on their team. But the father understood that if his son were allowed to play it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging.
Shay’s father approached one of the boys on the field and asked if Shay
could play. The boy looked around for guidance from his teammates. Getting none, he took matters into his own hands and said, “We are losing by six runs, and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we’ll try to put him up to bat in the ninth inning.” In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay’s team scored a few runs but was still behind by three.
At the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the outfield. Although no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be on the field, grinning from ear to ear as his father waved to him from the stands.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay’s team scored again. Now, with two outs and bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base. Shay was scheduled to be the next at-bat. Would the team actually let Shay bat at this juncture and give away their chance to win the game?
Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shay didn’t even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball. However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher moved a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least be able to make contact. The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed.
The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly toward Shay. As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball to the pitcher. The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could easily have thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shay would have been out and that would have ended the game.
Instead, the pitcher took the ball and threw it on a high arc to right field, far beyond reach of the first baseman. Everyone started yelling, “Shay, run to first. Run to first.” Never in his life had Shay ever made it to first base. He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled.
Everyone yelled “Run to second, run to second!” By the time Shay was rounding first base, the right fielder had the ball. He could have thrown the ball to the second baseman for a tag. But the right fielder understood what the pitcher’s intentions had been, so he threw the ball high and far over the third baseman’s head.
Shay ran toward second base as the runners ahead of him deliriously circled the bases toward home. As Shay reached second base, the opposing shortstop ran to him, turned him in the direction of third base, and shouted, “Run to third!” As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams were screaming, “Shay! Run home!”
Shay ran home, stepped on home plate and was cheered as the hero, for hitting a “grand slam” and winning the game for his team. “That day,” said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, “the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of the Divine Plan into this world.”
I believe we’re given powerful choices every day. Sometimes we’re just so busy, so focused, or so wrapped up in our own suffering, that we just miss them. How often do we miss the opportunity to bring a piece of the “Divine Plan” into this world? Let’s approach each day with expectancy and a commitment to show compassion to “the least of these.” Let’s make a “wonderful choice” today!
The Power of Truth:
“If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?” 1 John 3:17
“Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” James 2:15-17
“Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, ‘If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.’” Mark 9:35
Suggestion for Prayer:
If it’s been a while since you’ve helped another person in need, ask God to give you both the compassion and the opportunity to serve someone today.