Thursday, September 17, 2009

Out and Out Doesn't Work

There are people in the world who have an amazing capacity to serve people in need. They get in there and get dirty and do what needs to be done. How, or why they don't get tired and burned out serving that way is beyond me. There are some, and I'm not one, who are energized by such contact with people. Contact with needy people wears me out.

Sue and I have just had an interesting three weeks in our 30-plus year journey together. She was rendered quite helpless and needy and I was called upon to serve her physically and emotionally. I was tested a little bit. I was out of my comfort zone, but I think I did o.k. I was happy to do it for Sue. But for sure it's not my calling. Don't call me if you need that kind of ministering to.

1 Corinthians 12 indicates that we are all given different gifts, service to those in need being but one of many. My true spiritual gifts, I have discerned, are drinking coffee and going to meetings with people who are well enough to go home on their own power when the coffee and cake run out. I can lead a group discussion. I can also work with a chain saw or other piece of equipment all day. The closest I usually come to ministering to people is to take a guy fishing. I can sit in a fishing boat and "visit" with a guy all day and we'd not say more in total than some people can say in five minutes. Yet we'd come away from the experience feeling like we really connected.

On all but a few days of my time in San Francisco I took time out for me. Time to get some exercise and some air. Time to see something interesting and meet some people who didn't expect anything from me nor me from them. I got sufficient rest. I got in a little reading to feed my mind --I read the beautifully disturbing book "A Thousand Splendid Suns" by Khaled Hosseini. I took time to help David Carico move from one apartment to another. David's new apartment in Tiburon has, as Matt Friesen puts it, "a ridiculous view." I went to a Giants vs. Dodgers baseball game with Dave Friesen and Matt Friesen and went shopping with my daughter, Jessica. I actually worked a bit from my makeshift office in Sue's room, and blogged most every day. And every day included multiple times to get coffee and to contemplate and to communicate with the Great Grandfather In The Sky.

Now you'd think that, having done all that, and more, I didn't have much time to be with Sue or I didn't give much of myself to her. I beg to differ. A pitcher can only be poured out for so long without being filled up again. If you don't fill it back up, it runs dry and is useless to the thirsty. Further, who wants to drink stale water?

So if you are ever called upon to serve someone in this way, take some advice from me. Out and out doesn't work. Get filled and get fresh every day. Then serve.


  1. George,
    Thank you for your thoughts, reflections and comments. Thanks, too, for being there over these last weeks and months and years with my favorite same-age cousin.


  2. ...and I say thanks... among other things, for your honesty and for sharing your wise insights. Is your middle name Solomon, by chance? Seems to me here is nothing wrong with recognizing our limitations and strengths and serving each other within them. We are probably much more effective that way anyway. You sir, are ministering to more than Sue. I am blessed by your ministry and I doubt I am alone. My love to both of you - Lotti D

  3. Doesn't it sort of highlight how much patience and love and daily care God showers on us?

  4. Amen. Different pitchers are refilled at different taps. What is the "ridiculous view" a view OF?