In my previous blog I quoted Mark 12:30-31 where Jesus says to Love God with all your heart… and to love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus was asked the question in my heading and he came back with the parable of the Good Samaritan. Most of us have heard this parable and could give a quick synopsis of it, but there are some interesting things that I’ve learned about this parable that brings it right into our time.
Do you know who Samaritans were in Jesus’s day? They were the hated, the outcasts the “dregs” of Jewish society. There was a long history between the Jews and the Samaritans, that will not go into. In the first century, Jews who were traveling from Galilee (where Jesus was based in Capernaum) to Jerusalem, they would go miles out of their way to go around Samaria. It wasn’t considered safe to travel though Samaria.
With this information in mind, let’s look at the rest of the parable. A man who was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho (about a days walk, through some rough land) and was beaten, stripped of his clothing and robbed of all his possessions. A priest (Jewish priest from the temple) happened by but didn’t stop to help the man. A Levite (a person who served in the temple) passed by but didn’t help the man. Both of these men would have been highly esteemed by the general public in Jesus’s day. They certainly knew of the directives from God to help others that were in trouble. But they didn’t stop. I have read some commentaries regarding this and one thing that they may have been worried about was becoming “unclean”. If a jew happened to get blood on their bodies anywhere they were considered “unclean” and would have to go through the purification process before they could work in the temple. They might have not wanted to “defile” themselves by helping this person.
A Samaritan comes along and “took pity” on the man. He bandaged his wounds (using oil and wine, fairly expensive stuff) and then put the man on his own donkey. Now, think about this; this is a Samaritan with a beat-up Jew on his donkey. He could have been yelled at, or worse, if any one around him saw what he was doing. The man really had no business in helping the hurting man, but helped him anyway.
The Samaritan took the man to an inn and continued to take care of him. Just taking this man to an inn was hard for this man; the inn may have not even served Samaritans. The man needed to continue on his journey and gave the innkeeper “two denarii” to take care of him. A denarius (single) was about one days pay in Jesus’s time, so the man gave the innkeeper about two days pay. Then tells the innkeeper that when he comes back he will reimburse him for any additional charges. The Samaritan not only took care of the man, but paid to have someone to continue to help him. This was out of his pocket with no expectation of return.
We are to be like the Samaritan. Helping others without expecting anything back. Doing good things for others. Going out of our way to help someone. Loving them, regardless of who they are, what they believe or what they look like. This is what “Loving your Neighbor” looks like.
I’m now noticing that when I was in the middle of caregiving that I didn’t have much time or energy to help others. I was very selfish and drawn in on myself. I was worried about getting through each day and I didn’t worry much about my neighbor.
Now I’m trying to take this attitude and turn it around, so that I can look at others and see if I can help to meet their needs. This is so hard when all I’ve ever thought about was my needs. Yes, I extended that to my husband and my children, but never outside of that circle.
As Christians we are commanded to love our God with everything that is within us and to extend that love to others. As Christians we are not only to take care of ourselves and family, but to also extend care to others. What does this look like? I’m not sure, but I know that my giving care will look different from yours. We are all called to do this. We should pray and ask what caregiving we can to today for others.
The March for Life was yesterday and it brings about memories of my life. I’ve been through more things then just a caregiver for my husband. As Christians, we are to care about all life and the March for Life and the Women’s March brings out that we are to care for all life.
Back in 2017, I was a part of another blog, the Lutheran Ladies Connection. This is a blog that I posted about the March for Life. We not only have to think about children losing their lives, but what about the women that get sucked into the rhetoric that abortion is OK? What happens to them in the aftermath of taking a life? In my case, I thought my life was over. I had done a horrible thing and I felt that the Lord would never love me again.
As you read this, please think about others in your life who have done horrible things. They deserve our compassion. Yes, they have sinned, but haven’t we all?
My co-workers gave me a birthday card at the end of last year that totally surprised me. As I looked at the front of this card I was so taken back. You can see the card’s cover on this blog. When I saw the card I thought, somebody sees me. The real me that I’m trying to present to the world.
You see, I’ve been trying to be as fearless as possible in this Covid world that we live in. I see so many persons that live in fear now, and it isn’t healthy to live that way. Yes, we can be cautious. Yes, we should be careful, however that looks to you. Wear a mask in public and don’t go to large gatherings if you have reason to fear getting the virus. But you still can’t live in fear. As I have said before in a previous post that I used to be afraid that I would bring home a flu virus to Joseph every flu season because I work at a college and come in contact with students and staff. I’ve had students cough and sneeze while they were talking to me and I’d be so afraid for Joseph. After several years of this I couldn’t stand the strain and put it in God’s hands. Yes, I took precautions. We had a disinfectant spray that I would use after some students, and I always tried to keep my distance, even before this “social distancing” was a thing.
Fear is an internal feeling. No one can make you feel fear, you can get fearful without anyone’s help. We are not to live in fear. 2 Timothy 1:7 says “For God did not give us a Spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control.” I’m definitely trying to live this verse out in my life and it’s wonderful to get confirmation that I’m doing it right!
I’ve really left those of you who have followed me just hanging. It’s been a strange few months and I have been preoccupied with thinking about where I want my life to go. I have retirement coming up and that involves a lot of care and “pre-thought”… I told a friend, it’s like stepping off a cliff! But in the end, you can only do so much planning and the rest has to be left up to God.
I used to be a very bad worrier, always “projecting” the worse thing that could happen. I’m better now than I used to be, but I still find myself all wrapped up in my thoughts and problems and I don’t think about others. In my mind I’m seeing the worst possible scenario and fighting my emotional reactions to them. When Joe was first diagnosed, I almost had an emotional breakdown when I drove past a cemetery and my thought was that I didn’t even have enough money to bury him when he died. He lived sixteen years after that day, so I didn’t have to worry, God knew the future and I didn’t.
Somewhere in those sixteen years, Matthew 6:25-34 became real to me. God knows the future, He knows my situation and He is in control. I would read these words and stand on the promise. He never let me down. I’ve fallen away from this a bit and I’ve resolved to keep these passages in mind when I’m tempted to worry about my future. Look them up the next time you feel a good worry coming on.
Whenever I hear the word wisdom, I think of King Solomon. He was supposed to have prayed for wisdom and also received it. In the context of this prayer, we are asking for wisdom to know the difference. The difference between acceptance and change, and when we should do either one.
I don’t think I’m a very wise person. In fact, I look back and some of the things that I have done are really stupid. I wonder where my brain was when I decided those things. But praying for wisdom; that’s just a step up. We are coming to the Lord and saying we don’t know what we should do and asking Him to help us. We have to be humble to ask this.
To be humble is to admit that you are not a good judge of a situation. Perhaps you are too close to the situation to determine what should happen. To be humble you need to acknowledge that you are not in control. To be humble you need to have a peace about letting God have control. To be humble to listen to the Lord and do as He tells you.
He may speak to you through the scriptures, or perhaps a good friend who you trust. Always seek counseling with others because you may be too close to the situation to make a good decision.
The rest of this prayer is about humility. Living only one day at a time; which is all the that Lord has promised us. Enjoying what is happening now; not letting the past or future ruin what joy there is in a day. Accepting any hardship, knowing that the Lord will get us though it. Doing what the Lord would have us do because blessings will always come with following the Lord.
This whole prayer is one that can help you live your life. It encompasses living in the Lord in a few sentences. Since doing this blog about the Serenity Prayer I think that I will have to take it more to heart then I’ve done in the recent past. I’ve reminded myself why I used to pray this a lot. I don’t have Joe to take care of anymore, but this prayer is too good to set aside.
“mental or moral strength to venture, persevere,
and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty”
After Serenity and Acceptance comes Courage. Courage to change the things I can. Whew! Tall order. Changing our attitudes, feelings and outlook on life takes courage. We have to have a “mindset” that we will change this or that and work on doing so.
Lately I’ve had a problem with courage and changing things. I want to change my lifestyle into one that is healthier and better for me. I have a membership to the local YMCA, and I even wear a Fitbit. It seems that I have trouble getting my mind into that mindset that will help me overcome some of the physical problems that I have. Without giving you a list, just know that I’m in my “senior” years and I’ve found that the stress of taking care of my husband for 16 years and especially the last 5 of those years have taken a terrible toll on my body. I managed to also work full-time during those years and I still work full-time.
I also have trouble with studying and reading the Bible, going to church and just getting out. Of course the pandemic has a lot to do with not going to church or going out, but I used to be very active in our church and I had no problem jumping in my car to take off somewhere. You’d think that I’d be able to study the Bible more, but I find my mind just isn’t in it.
So I’m going to try to ask God for more Serenity. I don’t have too much of a problem accepting things, I had a lot of practice with that one while Joe was still alive. But the courage to change stuff I have to work on. I might just ask for a bit of Wisdom while I’m at it.