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Augustine is considered one of the greatest theologians of all time. One of his most famous books is a biography of his life in which he tells his story of conversion and confesses many of his sins growing up. It has recently been republished in a modern translation called, "You Converted Me" which I read bits and pieces of recently. So, I've decided to confess a sin.

I have seen on a fairly regular basis an older man who lives by himself in our apartment complex. He gets out a lot and is very independent. A month ago, he was in a fairly serious car accident just a few blocks from our place. We drove by and the police were there and were taking care of everything. The next day, I saw some people bringing him into his apartment in a wheelchair and a brace on his leg. I told Shari that if we see him out we should talk to him and see if he needed any help around his apartment or going to the store. A few weeks after the accident I was walking to my car to go to my class on "Daniel." There he was coming out of his apartment with his walker going to put something in the mailbox. I could see that it was a bit of a struggle and I thought that I should help him. But, I proceeded to get in my car, turn on the ignition, start driving out the complex, the whole time thinking I should help him. As I was waiting to turn on the main road I kept on thinking I should turn around and help him, but I drove off to class so I could learn about the 2300 days.

I've been whining and complaining about how Adventism doesn't stress helping people enough. We are too wrapped up in theological debates to actually help people. And then I get the chance to help and I drive on by so I can make sure I'm in class and not miss a second of the discussion on the prophecies of Daniel.

From the second I sealed my decision to not help him, I was overcome with guilt, frustration, anger. How could I see someone so obviously in need and refuse to help? I've tried to blame it on Adventism and our overemphasis on doctrine over service. I think this is partly to blame but only very little. I've tried to justify it by saying I had a responsibility to be in class so I didn't have time. This simply doesn't work.

The bottom line is that I am so far from living out the life of Jesus it's scary. Why don't I have the heart to help and love people no matter the cost?

So I was living with this terrible guilt for weeks. I still feel awful about it. It's a good guilt because it is driving me to action. The good news is that we saw him about a week ago in his wheelchair bringing some trash over the the dumpster. We got a chance to talk to him, give him our phone number and offer any help we could. I was relieved to find out that he has family in the area, goes to the church right next door, and has a home-health worker coming to help on a regular basis. He's a really nice guy, actually a retired Lutheran Pastor who lived in Maryland for about 30 years.

He called us a few days ago with a request for help. He wanted to go see, "An Inconvenient Truth" and said if we took him he would pay. So, last night we went to see the movie which was excellent and had a great time talking with him. I hope he feels like he can rely on us for help even when we won't benefit like we did from seeing the movie.

I want to be someone who goes beyond the call of duty to help people while expecting nothing in return. I want to be someone who serves with joy.

Basically, I want to be a Christian who takes the life of Jesus seriously.


dpm said…
i think it's great that you offered your phone number, but why not offer to do something for him, instead of waiting for him to ask? do you know how hard it is for people to ask for help? (well...some people... other people seem to like it.) how about everytime you take out your trash, you go by his apartment to take out his? or how about taking him dinner?
i don't know... maybe all of those things you see him "struggling" to do are things he likes to do in order to feel more independent.
whatever the case, he probably loves people and would benefit most from genuine company. can you imagine all the things you could learn from an old preacher! dude! go hang out with him instead of catching up on 3-week-old World Cup games that you tivo'd.

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