Hosea 12 – 14
Several years ago, when I was in college, some of my classmates and I felt we deserved an unofficial holiday. It was summer time and the thought of spending another long day cooped up in a stuffy classroom was hard to take. When we discovered that a new water park had opened on the west side of town and had become a hangout for the local girls it was like the line from Star Trek, “Resistance is futile!” I was the first one of our group out of the changing room. I stood there just outside the door and was looking over the water slides and several pools trying to decide where we would be most likely to meet some girls when I noticed a mother playing with her toddler. The little guy was laughing hysterically as he jumped from the deck into the water and his mother’s arms. He was maybe two and was having a ball. Time after time as soon as she put him back on the deck he would spin around and jump as far as he could back into the water. Suddenly instead of jumping back to his mother he ran as fast as he could to the deep end. His mother kept calling his name and telling him to come to her. All the while she kept moving towards the deep end until suddenly it was apparent that she couldn’t swim. As she struggled to keep herself above the water the little guy reached the deep end and just like before jumped as far as he could but no one was there to catch him. The expression on her face was one of absolute terror. It seemed that she was trying to call for help but she just couldn’t get the words out. I looked for the lifeguard but didn’t see any. I looked at those who were much closer to the pool but they seemed to be paralyzed with indecision. I was probably 50 yards away but I ran as fast as I could and dove into the water. As I pushed the little guy up there was no shortage of eager arms to pull him from the water. The mother had made her way to a ladder and was soon reunited with her son. The little guy didn’t seem the least bit upset until he was placed in her arms. She sat there on the concrete and just clung to him and cried. I’ve often thought of that event and wondered why others who were closer didn’t jump in. Many saw the need, but it seems they were all waiting for someone else. Perhaps they thought since the little guy wasn’t struggling and the mother didn’t actually call for help that it wasn’t really a crisis. Maybe they didn’t dive in because they would have been so embarrassed if suddenly the little guy would have suddenly bobbed to the top and started swimming laps. Over the years I have observed this reluctance of people to ‘jump in’ numerous times. It has taught me that in times of urgency that we need to give clear and concise commands. “You call 911. You go for the first-aid kit. You hold firm pressure on this spot.” I don’t recall even one time when someone refused to help when they clearly under stood what was being asked of them. The desire to help is universal – over coming the reluctance to commit is the obstacle.
As the book of Romans concludes Paul shines a spot light on several who freely gave of themselves in the building up of the early church. Paul in reference to Phoebe uses some strong imagery to introduce her. He refers to her as sister, a servant, worthy of the reception of a saint, and a great helper. What a wonderful commendation. Paul goes on to credit several others for their service and commitment. While we do not have a lot of detail of their contributions it seems apparent that they were not the type to stand idly by. They saw a need and jumped in to address it. They worked hard, risked their lives and shared in the sufferings. They may not have been the nearest to the need or even the most talented but they were the ones who were willing, the ones who are remembered.