Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Jump Into Spring

Ah, it’s that time of year again.  The birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming, love is in the air, and my dadblasted neighbor has taken his 150 decibel motorcycle out of winter storage.  No kidding, the airport has called him complaining about the noise.  Seriously, this “follower of Jesus” thing is fine and everything, but I’m willing to consider breaking a few commandments just to shut up this guy’s bike.  You don’t have to encourage me, but at least you could say you understand.

A few Springs ago, I had an odd encounter with another motorcycle.  While picking up my son at his junior high school, I was approached by one of the teachers – Coach.  Coach is a jovial giant, standing in the mid six foot range whom I’d gotten to know during the school year.  Coach had a problem – his fat hog was dead… I should clarify, his motorcycle wouldn’t start.  As I waited for Junior to bounce out the exit doors, Coach recognized me and asked for the favor of a jump start.  Dejectedly, I turned down Coach’s request, “Sorry Man, I don’t have any jumper cables in my car right now.”  To this day, his response stunned me:
“You’re a pastor and you don’t have jumper cables?”
I have a master’s degree in Ministry.  I remember some of my course work pretty well, but I just can’t find my notes from the day the professor covered which emergency car maintenance items ordained ministers were required to have in their car at all times.  Since Coach is also an assistant basketball coach at a nearby Christian college, I figure he knows what’s expected.

I’m in a quandary here.  What should be required of pastors?  And since pastors are supposed to equip the flock, what is required of ALL followers of Jesus.  Right now, how many of you have jumper cables in your car?  But, I do think Coach is onto something.  Remember the Good Samaritan?  I think loving your neighbor somehow involves being ready to help him… somehow.  Will a word from our Sponsor satisfy?
If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. (Matthew 5:40)
But I wasn't being sued… How about:
Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. (Matthew 5:42)
Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. (Luke 6:30)
Okay, I’m willing to be generous and I guess I would have even given Coach my cables if he just asked to borrow them, but I didn’t have any.  What to do?  What to do?

In fact, I make it a point to always have jumper cables with me always.  On that occasion, my wife was having trouble with her battery and I put my cables in her car so she wouldn’t get stranded.  (Husband points!)  I like being able to help and I’ve given many a disabled vehicle a jump.  When I lived in South Carolina, I would carry around a cooler with ice cold water bottles in it so I could comfort the afflicted during the sweltering summers.  Seriously, Coach, I take this “follower” thing seriously, preacher or not.  Let’s catch a final word from our Sponsor and see what else followers of Jesus need to have at the ready:
Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you. (1 Peter 3:15)
There’s a lot there!  The main point is that followers of Jesus live their lives with a rare kind of Hope – the kind the worries of the world cannot extinguish.  And when you have that kind of hope people are going to ask about it.  So always be ready to give the people around you a Jolt of Jesus – jump their sad hearts with the Good News that God has great plans for all of us.  Prepare today to say to someone, “I’m calm in the midst of this pain / sorrow / calamity, because I believe in God’s love for me and His plan for me.  I’m not going to let temporary circumstances steal my joy.”  Say that and you’ll be giving someone a jump that will stay with them for a long, long time!

Well Coach, I may be a sad sack little pastor with no jumper cables, but I still have a brain.  I suggested we get his chopper started the old fashioned way, with a push.  “I never tried that before, but let’s give it a shot.”  (I thought, “You’re a science teacher and you never jump started your motorcycle before?”  Two can play at this game, you know.)  Coach saddled up and Junior and I got behind the rolling half ton of mass and gave it our best.  In ten seconds, I had redeemed myself for failing the pastor test and Coach was off annoying suburbanites seeking a quiet Spring afternoon.

Clark H Smith

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