A couple weeks back a call for volunteers was made at church. I considered saying I'd go, but then thought that was not a good idea. I feared I'd be more a detriment than a help. This body isn't what it once was, not that it was ever all together great. But back a few years Arthur Itis wasn't hanging around my joints. I can't even squat down anymore, and if I kneel or sit upon the floor it pains me and it is difficult to get back up.
I've lost a lot of strength as well. I was able to press at least a hundred and twenty pounds straight overhead, but these days I struggle to carry a 40-pound bag of kitty litter. So, no, I better not go.
I brought this subject up at the dinner table that evening. My eldest daughter, Laurel, said, "Oh, I'd like to do that. I'll go." Since she was going to go I decided I would as well, but not without trepidation.
I went. I found I was right about my loss of strength when I couldn't lift one end of a table to help move it, but I could pull nails and sweep and pick up debris. Age caught up with me in mid-afternoon when my hands began to cramp, freezing my thumbs solid against the last knuckle of my index finger, but at least I didn't collapse.
The devastation is startling. We drove down street after street with the curbs on both sides lined with the ruined discards of these people's lives. This junk was their furniture, appliances, walls, floors, and personal belongings, and irreplaceable memorabilia of their lives. The houses often looked fine standing behind these heaps, but they were like movie sets, empty shells, stripped to the bone inside.
Where do you begin?
You begin with prayer and then you bend your back and you do as much as you can.
Some ask, "Why did this happen to these people? What did they do to deserve this?"
One day Jesus stepped outside after having his supper. Some who where around mentioned a recent atrocity that befell some Galileans at the hands of Pilate, the Roman Pocurator of Judea. Pilate had them killed and their blood mixed with that of the sacrifices. These people apparently though the Galileans had sinned in some way to have come to this end.
Jesus said: "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners that all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them - do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish." (Luke 13: 1-5)
We live in a cursed world since man fell. There are events that randomly overtake us, destroy our property and sometimes our lives, not because we are greater sinners that someone down the road, but just because murders and towers falling and hurricanes happen. These things happen to good people and bad, to the unrepentant and the saved.
Jesus was not warning these people that if they did not repent that a tower was going to fall on them or an earthquake would swallow them up. He was warning them they lived in a dangerous world and such things could befall them. And if such things did not happen to them, they would still die same day, but they could not know if that might be sooner than later. If they had not repented and found salvation with God they would not only die, but perish in Hell afterward.
We must not only help these people rebuild their property and lives, but also rebuild their faith or find a faith they may never have had. You don't just do this with a prayer and a God bless you. These people do not feel very blessed right now. You do it by putting deeds behind the words, by getting your hands dirty and standing beside them to do what little you can to make their recovery quicker.
And you realize how this could have been you and next time may be.
The video is what I pieced together from that Saturday. All the photos are mine, except of the Church of Grace and Peace", which I called "Peace and Grace" in my narration.