People used to borrow a cup of sugar from their neighbors. It was, then, an old cliché. When you needed something, the person you turned to was the person physically closest to you. In many ways, life is different now. In Singapore, I am not sure anyone speaks English except for the one uncle next door. In California, the solid wooden doors suggest that I should only knock if it is an emergency. Yet, I wonder. On occasion, you and I will have times of need. The ingredients may have changed, but the problem in our lives remains.
Is the situation different?
The reality is that every individual still needs help. There are times when you just do not know. Asking someone for her/his advice is critical. The other can provide what you do not have. There are times when the shelves do not have what you need. Often it is at an hour when going to the store is not an option. One must seek the other or go without.
As I met an individual that is helping out team yesterday, I was reminded that each story of help contains two critical actions. It has been the same across the ages. In one story, “Publius’s father was sick at the time, down with a high fever and dysentery. Paul went to the old man’s room, and when he laid hands on him and prayed, the man was healed.” (Acts 28.8)
The two actions are obvious, yet I often forget their relevance.
First, the elders (those who were here first) reach out to the young. They are welcomed and maid to feel at home. The offer to serve comes those that do not have the need. It is a gift that only they can offer.
Second, those in need open themselves up to the other. It can be in the form of a request or simply in being vulnerable and engaged. Either side can initiate the process. Openness is key – a willingness to be present and willing.
Life changes, the need for help does not.