I thought it was going to be a normal day.
First- grader David caught the bus at his country home [eleven miles from the county seat of Marion, Ky.] The bus took me approximately fifteen miles to a little school in Tolu, Kentucky. I had a normal day all day and at the end of the day I got on my regular bus to take me back to my home. I got off the bus and walked to the front door of my home where I usually could find Mom awaiting my arrival.
That’s where normal ceased.
No one was at home.
Here I was, little kid all alone in the country with no close neighbors. Then it hit me. I wasn’t supposed to ride my normal bus but take a bus to Marion.
Dad and Mom were on a trip and that was their well-thought-out plan. The only problem was that little David was forgetful that day. I did my routine, when a change of routine was called for. I thought I knew the address where I was going but I didn’t. Route 6 Marion should have been 408 Belleville, where my Grandmother lived in town.
I did not handle this situation well; I went into panic mode. I remember crying uncontrollably, thinking I was lost and would never be found. Of course that was crazy. One neighbor was about a half-mile away and my “country” Grandfather and Grandmother were a half-mile in the other direction.
I finally came to my senses and walked to my Grandfather and Grandmother’s home, crying all the way.
I thought I knew my address but that day, I didn’t.
What is your address? That sounds like a crazy question but maybe it is not. As a first-grader, memorizing my address was a big deal. I could write it on “official papers”, I could tell it to adults who asked at school and if anyone needed to know how to get me home, I could tell them. It was a significant thing for a kid to remember.
As I am significantly older now, I have different thoughts about where my address is. By that I mean I think about being a part of the world. Now I am not just a resident of Hopkinsville Kentucky. I am a Kentuckian, a southerner, an American, a resident of the Western Hemisphere, a human being on the Planet Earth. Sounds silly doesn’t it? Think about it though; when I went to Alaska and saw examples of glacial melt, I pondered global warming. When I heard of hurricanes tearing through Houston and Florida, I thought of the trips I have made to both southern locations. When I read news of state budget cuts that may impact my former place of employment, I identify with Kentucky.
But what is my address?
Pastor Mark Labberton has his own story about his address in his book.* Instead of a story about a little lost kid, his story is about not getting involved in helping someone who needs help. You see, his point is a good one. If we look at ourselves as people who exist at specific locations and that is all, then the thought begins to creep into our minds “Why should I care about that person who has no heat down the street? It is not my problem.” “Why help those homeless people on a biting cold night? My home is warm and cozy.” “Those hurricane victims have lost it all but I don’t live on the coast. Sure glad I live inland.”
You get the point. Insularity leads to apathy, when we live in a world that needs help.
It is more than that. As Christians we are called to help others. Jesus does not intend for us to withdraw into our own private lives, ignoring the needs of those around us.
The transformed heart that we seek as Christians is not a heart that focuses only on self. I would ask that you meditate on Matthew 22: 37-38. It is not much of a stretch that the first verse is a dedication that we must have toward Jesus and the second verse is an extension toward others, our neighbors. Jesus does not intend us to hide our lights under bushels; He wants us to shine them, so others can see. Labberton writes “Now I lived in Christ in the world. That was my new address and it affected everything. It meant that the world was bigger and deeper, that things close at hand and far away mattered more. It meant that my life was no longer my own or simply about me. I was beginning the process of losing my life in order to find it.”
None of us wants to be lost [it truly is uncomfortable], but actually it is not the end of the world. The best thing about being lost is finding your way home. We all want a home. The bad thing is when home becomes a place to hide from those in the world who need our help. Jesus wants us to reach out to the world and have a positive impact. As He has loved us, He wants us to love others.
Walking to my “country” Grandfather and Grandmother’s home took a little effort but they consoled me, took me in for the night, fed me great food and put me in a warm bed. They helped me so much and to this day, I still remember them greeting me at the door. Maybe they weren’t Dad and Mom but they did just fine.
Their help was so appreciated.
Maybe if we help others, they will feel appreciation too. It is not necessary to get appreciation, but our efforts to help are necessary.
As Christians, it is our mission.
*The Dangerous Act Of Loving Your Neighbor