You’ve stumbled upon a four-part blog series called THE WAITING. This is Part Three. Here’s where we’ve been so far…
Life in the Waiting – An Unwanted New Home
Life in the Waiting – When Will This End?
When most of us think about being truly needy, we’re not too thrilled with what we look like when we’re there – when we’re in that place of need. If you’re like most people, you’d much rather be the one who helps meet the needs of others. But when we’re in The Waiting, we’re the needy ones, whether we admit it or not. Even Paul was needy, and his friends were called to take care of him. Remember how Luke tells the story in Acts 24:23.
He ordered the centurion to keep Paul under guard but to give him some freedom and permit his friends to take care of his needs.
I’ve lived a journey of health issues that have lasted over three years. First it was chronic migraine headaches that sidelined me from anything and everything. Then it was a herniated disc in my lower back that resulted in four spine surgeries in ten months.
As a result of my chronic pain and health challenges, the condition of our physical home has degenerated because I can’t work on it. I’m not too great at being the home improvement guy anyway, and I’m terrible at projects. I enjoy thinking about the projects, but when I need to actually work on the projects, I literally and figuratively struggle to hit the nail on the head.
My brother-in-law’s name is Peter. I’ve known Peter for 25 years now, and he’s an amazing man. Peter is an Engineer for a large Pharmaceutical firm in Pennsylvania, and he’s legitimately the smartest guy I’ve ever met.
Pete has a very generous heart, and that includes his money, and his hospitality, and his willingness to help people who don’t have the resources to help themselves. So every year, Pete uses one of his week-long vacations and travels into an area that has been devastated by a natural disaster. He spends a week there, living among the people of that community, rebuilding their homes for good folks who have lost theirs. And somewhere during that week, Pete would tell you that his own life gets rebuilt too.
Pete is that guy. He can fix or build or rebuild anything, and I think he learned almost everything he knows about building things from watching those DIY shows on cable television.
Early in 2016, Pete contacted us and said, “I want to come to your house for a week in May, and I want to just fix and rebuild everything that’s broken.” Angela’s jaw just dropped when she heard him say those words. What an amazing answer to a prayer we didn’t even know we were supposed to pray. Pete went on to say that he wanted my family to be his missions project for 2016, and that’s because I’ve been forced to live with so many health limitations.
The immediate reaction of most people would be gratitude. “Oh. That’s so generous. What a nice man!” Some of our more-than-the-average-Christian friends would connect Pete’s act of sacrifice with God’s answer to our unspoken prayer requests. They’d see, in Pete’s heart, a sacrifice that’s supposed to set the Christian community apart from every other community. And they’d be right.
But I didn’t feel that we when I heard the news about Pete’s desire to help us. And if you’re like me at all, and especially if you’re a proud male who has always tried his best to take care of his family, then you’ll come close to understanding it when I say these embarrassing words…
I don’t want help.
I don’t want help because I don’t want to be needy.
I DON’T WANT HELP FROM PEOPLE BECAUSE I DON’T WANT TO BE NEEDY. I’D RATHER FAKE IT THAN ALLOW PEOPLE TO WALK WITH ME THROUGH IT.
Don’t get me wrong. I need help. Our house is falling apart. And I’m so grateful for Pete’s kind act of generosity, not to mention the sacrifice he’d make by leaving his wife and three children for a week. That’s a really big deal.
But I don’t want to let my friends and family do the things that I cannot do. I don’t want them to visit me in my prison to help take care of my needs.
I don’t want to be needy.
But thankfully, because I’m more smart than proud, Pete purchased his airline tickets and set his missions trip dates in stone. He stayed with us for nine days. He worked his tail off, doing a million little things around our house. My mother-in-law made the hour-long trip to our house every day too, offering Pete her assistance as a gifted interior designer, and together they fixed everything that was broken, actually creating spaces in our house that are far more attractive and functional than ever before. When we’re ready to sell our home, we’ll get $10,000 more because of what they did in seven days.
One night, Pete and I had just finished eating a generous portion of Santa Maria tri-tip, and enjoying a good local beer. Pete loves some good California tri-tip, because apparently they don’t make cows with tri-tip in Pennsylvania. As we sat at the table after eating way too much, we had an honest conversation about how grateful I was, but also about how I struggled with the reality of being needy. And, because Pete is just an amazing Christian man, he sympathetically understood my feelings. He even told me that he’d probably feel the same way.
When we drove Pete to the airport at the end of the week, we hugged him, told him we loved him, and tried our best to come up with some better and more meaningful words than “thank you”. And when Angela and I walked back to our house through the freshly painted front door, we had officially become the humbled recipients of a new master bathroom, a new guest bathroom, new ceiling fans in every room, new lighting fixtures throughout the house, and a hundred other little fixes that I’m not even aware of.
So if you’re reading this, and you’re in The Waiting (no matter what kind of waiting it is), it’s extremely important to look at yourself in the mirror, and just say these words, “I’m needy, and that’s okay”. And if people offer to fix your leaky faucets or mow your lawn or bring you Chinese food, then allow your heart to struggle while your lips say “Okay. That would be great.”
Why? Because when we’re in The Waiting, God will most likely make Himself known to you through the people you allow to care for you. And isn’t that what we really need the most? God’s presence?
AS WE CRY OUT FOR GOD’S PRESENCE IN THE WAITING, HE WILL MOST LIKELY MAKE HIMSELF KNOWN TO US THROUGH THE PEOPLE WE ALLOW TO CARE FOR US.
And if you’re NOT currently in the Waiting, can I give you a thought?
Can you be like Pete? What if God’s presence through your presence is enough? We all have this tendency to think that we need to become a better person before we can become a true carrier of Christ’s presence, but that’s just not true. When we think like that, we’re either giving ourselves what sounds like a great spiritual excuse, or we’re negating the Spirit of God who lives in our bodies. Or both. Because your friends and family who are currently in The Waiting need the broken-down and truest version of you to just show up at their prison door, because in that simple act, Jesus is somehow carried into their cell.
And it’s messy, and you won’t know what to say, and that’s why I think you should bring Chinese food, because everyone loves a good Mongolian Beef.
Please click here to read the next blogpost in THE WAITING series…