Tuesday, August 23, 2016

If Anyone Takes

Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.
Luke 6: 30
I know a man who had to be at work at 7 am on a Monday morning. But selflessly, at 10:30 Sunday night, he crawled out of his bed, put back on his clothes, and he drove across town to turn the water back on and he also flipped the breaker which controlled the outside electrical sockets restoring that power on the house on the "wrong side of the tracks."  When his wife asked him why, he replied, "Those kids didn't ask to be in that situation." 
Earlier that day, the man and his wife had taken friends by the property to see it. When he entered the kitchen he heard water running.  He panicked thinking there was a serious leak.  He told his wife later that he wasn't sure what made him open the back door and step out onto the small deck overlooking the backyard.  
The wife arrived in the kitchen just after he had stepped outside. The friends were standing alone  looking towards the laundry room/small bathroom. The wife mumbled and went out to see why her husband was looking off the side of the deck.  Her husband was standing quietly looking down into the yard at a woman washing the bottom of a small child and washing out his underwear. The wife's anger kicked in. The woman in the yard suddenly felt eyes on her and turned and said, "Oh hello."  The wife asked, "So how long have you been taking our water also?" Somewhat defiantly, (or was it embarrassment) the woman answered that this was the first time.  She explained that the child had soiled himself and she had to clean him up.  And yet, the couple knew that she had also stolen water from the neighbor on the other side of her rented home.  
Days before, the neighbor woman had admitted that she had plugged into the outside socket in order to start up her generator; she explained that their utilities had been cut off due to nonpayment.  It was their landlord's fault because he had not done a necessary repair and they had spent utility money to fix the fallen ceiling in the childrens' bedroom.  But then she mentioned he was suing them for paying rent late also.  And this is the same household where numerous adults and children are in and out and some of those adults and children have been observed by others stealing garden tools and lawnmowers around the neighborhood.   
The man and wife spent several hours with their friends after an afternoon church service discussing the neighborhood and ministry.  The man had cut off the electric and water to the outside before leaving the property that afternoon. He had questioned that decision over and over. 
The friends said he had absolutely done the right thing;. They said that we are not called to support others who will not work and help themselves. It appears that one adult in the household holds a job (possibly.)   He claims to work anyway.   

But the children, the face of that little boy when he saw that strangers were watching his naked bottom being washed with garden hose cold water, that is what kept coming back into the man's mind the rest of the evening.  His wife felt torn about the situation but wasn't sure how to help. She had been responsible for the family budget being smaller by "helping" others before only to have those helped right back in the same situation months later. His own children told him they thought he was wrong to "enable" the neighbors in their thievery. There is the valid question "when are we helping and when are we enabling irresponsible behavior?" And then there is the cynicism that can begin in one's mind when hearing yet another reason for someone asking for help.  This writer has to fight the tendency to hearing Charlie Brown's teacher's utterances, "Blah, blah, blah, blah."  

But back to the man I know; he just kept asking, "What would Jesus do?"  And then he rose from bed, traveled 25 minutes (one way) to the "bad" neighborhood, and let the water flow and made the power available to provide for the needs of his neighbors. And somehow, the wife felt that the man was, without a sermon, sharing the living water and the Power from above.    

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