A couple of days ago I decided to take a walk round the beautiful city of Vienna, enjoying some fresh air and beautiful final sights before heading back North to Sweden.
As I walked about, I was careful to look around and lock eyes: if there was someone in need and I could help, I would. Eventually I did take note of this middle-aged man who was nervously rummaging through public trash cans. He seemed hungry. I watched him search one, two, three.. and decided to walk up to him. If he was hungry, tonight he would eat.
And so, I approached him carefully,
He didn’t. Obviously irritated, he continued on.
Having followed him for another two minutes, I cautiously approached him again,
“Excuse me, are you hungry?”
Waving his hand, he swiftly moved on to the next trash can.
I now drew much closer and happily whispered,
“I’d really like to get you some warm food. Is that okay?”
He paused, turned around, locked eyes with me, and ran away.
Not me. Not today. Not now.
Although I did (very shorty, I must say) play around with the idea of running after him, I decided to let it be. There were people looking at me, wondering what it was. I smiled and walked on. Perhaps it should not be. Not today. Not me?
The following day – it would be my last one in Vienna – I left the restaurant where I had just dined with a friend. Sighting a Red Cross Mobile Blood Donation Clinic, I decided to do something good and donate some blood. If a friend could give of herself by take me out for a meal, surely I could (literally) give of myself too.
Walking to the entrance of the mobile clinic, I pressed the bell: once, twice, thrice. The door wouldn’t open. Having walked around the bus a few times to see whether there was another entrance but not finding any, I thought that it might perhaps be a sign for me to simply go home? Continuing my way to the underground station, something pulled me back, prompting me to try again: go back, press the bell and keep pressing it. And so, obeying my inner voice, I walked back, pressed a single time, and this time got in.
Now, seated beside a lady who was donating blood for the 60th time, I felt excited about the prospects of making this a regular thing too: giving of myself to safe others? How exciting! And so, filling out the forms and waiting for my turn to be interviewed and finally taken to the nurse who would draw my blood, I thought about why I hadn’t come earlier.
About 20 minutes later it was finally my turn and – handing over the completed form – got ready to be questioned. Any sicknesses? Any illnesses? Any recent surgeries? Any allergies? Any history of this, of that..? Any trips to countries where there was this, that, malaria? Well, yes.
And so, going on to explain how I had spent about two years in Lagos (Nigeria) about three years ago, and confirming that I had indeed fallen ill to malaria and survived it (a few times), she sadly explained how I was unfortunately ineligible. How they could not accept donations from people who had previously suffered from malaria (there were no screenings to test whether there was still any residue left) in Austria and how they appreciated my noble and selfless intentions, but sadly had to refuse my blood. They were simply not allowed to take it.
Not blood, not plasma. Not me, not today, not any day. I sighed, I smiled. At least I had tried.
Walking home, all this did make me think:
Having decided to consciously make a positive difference this year, to actively search for opportunities to help and give of myself, what was it with these stumbling blocks?
What was it with people refusing and rejecting my advances? Were my intentions wrong? Was I being carnal? Was I not being led? Had I gotten it all wrong? And so, as I kept wondering and questioning, I felt Him say,
Simple obedience. That’s all I ask of you.
..and immediately remembering Pastor O’s words,
Doing the right thing is always the right thing to do. It might not get you the right response, but it will eventually get you the right result.
..at least in His eyes.
I understood. All He needed me to do was to respond to the needs I saw. To see and to respond. Simple obedience. Regardless of what response I would get. I paused and smiled. I now understood.
I understood that my service to man really was service to Him. That when I offered food, clothing, warmth, blood.. I offered it to Him in obedience: a sacrifice. And in sacrificing, my gift was accepted: by Him! Even when refused and rejected by man.
I understood the meaning of obedience is better than sacrifice better than ever before: “Whatever He asks you to do, do it!”
I want to encourage you to do the same. This year, understand that whatever you do, you do unto Him. Regardless of whether your gifts and deeds are accepted or not, appreciated or not, acknowledged or not: whatever you do, do it as unto Him. Don’t be discouraged or dismayed. Don’t give up or give in. Do not throw in the towel! Just (keep) do(ing) it! Do the right thing regardless of who is watching or liking, accepting or appreciating.
Keep sowing and scattering seeds. He is surely and faithfully watering them. Simply do the right thing and see whether He will not give you enough reasons to laugh this year.