I’m in a learning circle with some friends where we’re learning what it means to be good neighbors in the Way of Jesus. We explore the teachings of Jesus, co-create an experiment out of what we’re learning, live out the experiment, and then reconvene to tell the stories. Last week, the experiment was to reflect on Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan, to ask Jesus, “What do you want me to do?”, and to live out what we heard Him say.
Let me briefly nuance hearing the voice of Jesus. I don’t hear the vibrations of vocal chords. Instead, I find myself suddenly compelled to do something that I wasn’t intending to do.
Here’s what hearing looked like last week and what happened as a result:
One day, while in this “Good Samaritan experiment,” I was suddenly compelled to check in with one of my neighbors. It felt random enough for me to understand that Jesus was doing something, so I got ready for a run and stopped by her house to check in with her. When I got there, she wasn’t in the front yard so I shrugged it off, thinking to myself, “I’ll check in after my run.”
My run took a bit longer than expected so when I got back to my street, I didn’t have the time to check in with her. Even though she sat in her front yard and waved at me, I simply waved back and went on my way. I never circled back to do what I had heard Jesus say.
When my friends reconvened a couple of days later, I was able to tell the story of how I had heard Jesus speak but I didn’t have a story to tell of how I lived what I had heard.
I was convicted. I had listened well, but I hadn’t lived what I had heard. My agenda had trumped obedience.
The next day (six days after I had heard Jesus tell me to check in with my neighbor), I went over to her house and checked in with her.
“How are you?” I asked, expecting to have a nice, but brief, conversation.
“I’m okay.” she said, but it was clear that there was something on her mind.
“Just okay?” I asked.
“I was actually hoping to catch you,” she said, “to see if you had any baby boy clothes lying around.”
“Lots of them” I said. “What do you need?”
“It’s not for me.” she said. “It’s for a teenage mom that I just met.”
She want on to tell me the story of this teenage mom…about how she had gotten pregnant and had moved into her boyfriend’s parent’s home. After her baby was born, the boyfriend’s mom grew suspicious of the girlfriend: she didn’t believe that her son was the baby’s father. One day, while the girlfriend was at school, the mom took cheek swabs of the baby and of her son and submitted them for a paternity test. A few weeks later, the paternity test indicated that her son wasn’t the baby’s father. The mom’s response? She packed up all of the baby’s belongings (clothes, crib, toys, etc.), brought them to Goodwill, and donated them. The girlfriend returned home from school to find her belongings in the street, was given her baby, and was told to leave.
She had nothing for her baby & she had nowhere to go.
My neighbor concluded the story with: “She needs some clothes for her baby and so I’m wondering you could help her.”
“Of course!” I said. “Right away. But I have a quick question.”
“What’s that?” she asked.
“When did this happen?”
“Last Friday.” she said.
“Huh.” I thought to myself. “Six days ago.”
And then it dawned on me.
When God speaks up, it’s not just for our own good. It’s because He wants to fix something that’s broken.