Oh no. Another call from the school. Jacob isn’t feeling well… for the fourth day in a row.
I knew what was going on. We’d been in California only a few weeks, and he had enjoyed my attention and the comforts of being at home during his strep throat episode. Now that he was back at school, his first grade teacher kept sending him to the office with a stomachache right before lunch. His dad picked him up, took him out for a bite to eat, and entertained the young lad at the church office for the rest of the day.
Now, I’m not heartless. I do sympathize when someone is truly ill. But I knew Jacob was past his strep throat illness. The antibiotics were finished and he needed to get back into the school routine. I knew what was going on, so I told his teacher to not give in.
“Please see if he can stay through lunch. If he’s still not feeling well, we’ll come and get him. I think he’s just cocooning.”
Sure enough, it did the trick.
We all are guilty of avoiding what we don’t want to do. I’ve watched students sharpen pencils, rearrange their papers, straighten their chairs, get a drink… anything to keep from having to start writing a paper. I would tell them not to worry about the beginning. Just jump right in and start writing. We’d figure out the introduction later.
It’s easy to dodge an unwelcome task or a person you want to steer clear of. Ignore it. Claim it isn’t important. Avoid speaking to people by moving to another part of the room. Walk away.
It’s okay to avoid people. Jesus did with the Pharisees (See John 4:1-3). He would meet them on His terms, not theirs. He even traveled through Samaria where He was sure they wouldn’t follow.
My husband advised me to do this whenever someone caught me off guard at work… said they needed to speak with me right then. He told me to always have some place to be and politely excuse myself. Make an appointment at a later time with them. Don’t let them have the advantage of it being on their terms, especially when you suspected they had an agenda. And if possible, have them tell you what they want to talk about. Be wary of anyone who won’t give a general idea what the meeting is all about. Those were times when I wished I had Jesus’ insight into their purpose.
On the other hand, it’s not so easy to avoid our family or our friends. We care about them and love them. But we insist we have other things to do. We just don’t want to have “that” conversation. We’re tired and want to be left alone in our own thoughts. It’s just not a convenient time.
Whether it’s friend or foe, when I want to avoid someone or something, I can hear myself humming to myself, “Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee.” Like the psalmist, I cry out: "You are my hiding place!" (Psalm 32:7) Take me away from this. I’m tired. I’m not interested. I don’t care right now. I want You to take the lead… take care of this… take it away.
Those are times I’m acting like the old hymn, “I Am Jesus’ Little Lamb.” Isn’t that a wonderful picture? On His shoulders, not a care in the world. “For my Shepherd gently guides me, knows my needs and well provides me.” Wouldn’t it be great having that perspective on life… all the time… every day?
But that’s not reality. There are times I need to pull myself together and remember six-year-old Chris. I was his Vacation Bible School teacher the very first month at our first church. I didn’t know him well, but I could tell he was a handful.
I sweetly talked about all of us being Jesus’ little lambs that He takes care of. Chris blurted out, “I’m Jesus’ little bull!” Of course that threw the whole group into chaotic laughter, especially when he started mooing.
But young Chris had a point. Sometimes we’re not sure just where to start, but we need to seize the chance when it’s right before us. Jump right in the middle of it… a conversation… a witnessing opportunity (I’m not very good at that)… a ministry that needs my help… my gifts.
You know, farmers and gardeners break up the earth, the clods, the sod, getting ready for planting. But they don’t keep plowing all summer long, admiring the beautiful soil all ready for the seeds. The season doesn’t stand still. At some point it’s time to plant, grow, tend, harvest.
I can’t stand around basking in the comfort of knowing my Savior is watching over me… taking care of me. After all, He goes with me into those tasks that greet me each morning… those I welcome and those I’d rather avoid.
But whatever point in ministry, whatever time of my life, whatever I have to offer… there is no avoiding the love, peace, and joy my Lord showers down on me.