When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘look for the helpers. You will always find people helping’. ~Mrs Rogers
This is the great advice that Mrs. Rogers would give her son Fred who would grow up to the infamous Mr. Rogers of Mr. Rogers neighbourhood. Looking for the helpers is a great distraction from looking for the evil. And when we see the helpers who ever they may be, what is it we are looking at? What is it that makes us feel better? There is something divine in the desire to help others selflessly. We often use terms to describe people who come to our aid, terms like ‘your an angel’, or ‘you were sent from God’. There is more truth in that that we recognize.
I was recently invited by a friend of a friend to be apart of an intervention. Because I was invited as the Clergy, I felt the pressure to show up ‘representing’. I prayed the whole way there in my car for God to give me an Oprah moment. I assumed I was the Doctor and they were the patient. If you have ever been in a discussion were the frustration is tangible, you would understand this evening. I found myself grinding my teeth, trying to find a moment to say something profound. Everyone in the room seemed so naive as they were being so kind and nice to this delinquent young man. I could barely handle it, I just wanted to spank the brat. Every body seemed to have something to say, so by the time it got to me I was so frazzled that nothing seemed to come out right. I kept thinking all those years as a Youth Pastor and I got nothing to say? Then it dawned on me. The very fact that I didn’t say anything, that I didn’t try to fix the situation was evidence that God was at work. A miracle happened that night…God shut my mouth. I went into the room with the wrong idea of who needed fixing. On my way home I realized God was at work in my life, because I was at work in his. I don’t believe for a minute that we never have some wisdom to share with friends or strangers alike, but I do believe that we say too much. Later that evening when I was alone thinking about the situation I saw it differently, I actually hurt for this young man. I have come to understand that Love shouldn’t just soften the heart of the receiver, but should radically change the heart of the giver too.
In I John 3:12, John writes to his friends and challenges them with a profound idea. God is not a disembodied Spirit. He doesn’t say ‘When’, he says ‘if’ we love and care for each other God is at work. It always comes down to a choice. God working through us is evidence of God at work in us. We need to remember that John is writing these words because they are difficult to do. He is reminding his friends who are looking for God, to get busy in God’s world – loving and caring so they will see him show up in their own hearts. Ironically when I meet Christians who say they are spiritually struggling or going through a dry spell, I can almost always count on the fact that they are not engaged in loving anyone difficult. It is in those moments when you realize that your humanity can’t fix the situations of our lives and we need open up our hearts and minds and let God out.
Like Mrs Rogers telling her son to look for the helpers, she is really saying look for God at work. I am reminded no matter how bad it gets to look for God at work, because he will show up – and sometimes he shows up through me.