Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Beyond the Call of Duty

Three recent incidents gave me a new appreciation for people who went beyond the call of duty in showing kindness to me.

1. A few weeks ago when I traveled to the a conference in Phoenix to represent VOM, I rode down with some people from a church near our home. It’s not the church I attend, but we do have a number of friends there and no one from my church was going. I had actually gotten a ride with them 2 years ago also. When the conference ended at 4 PM, I stayed in the exhibit hall for a few extra minutes, thinking that a few last minute stragglers might come by to see the VOM table. I think only one came – the exhibit hall was not in a good location and everyone was probably in a hurry to get home. Remembering that 2 years ago it had taken the church group a while to all reassemble at the church van, I figured I had some time before I had to get back to the church van myself. (Bad logic on my part, because there were a lot more people on the van 2 years ago than this year.) So I gabbed with the people at the Gospel for Asia table while waiting for the crowd that never came. When I did finally amble out to the church van about 4:20, I was dismayed to discover that everyone else was already in the van waiting for me, and in fact they had moved the van closer to the church so I didn’t have as far to walk! But rather than being upset at my lateness, the first thing the pastor’s wife noticed was that I was carrying a large and somewhat heavy pile of stuff – two boxes with my lunch box on top. She and the pastor and another guy got out of the van and came over and took the load off my hands. And they never said a word about having to wait for me (I apologized anyways). Just a simple act of kindness, but for some reason it meant a lot to me.

2. Last week, a rep and I got into a very sensitive situation related to an upcoming rep opportunity. While I can’t give you the details, I can assure you that if you knew the details you would be glad you didn’t have to handle it. Since my manager was out of the country, I emailed the situation to the department director Mr. B expecting nothing more than perhaps a few words of advice when he got time. To my surprise, Mr. B immediately jumped into the situation with us and helped bring a surprisingly positive conclusion to it. It was a blessing to me that someone with as much stress on his shoulders as Mr. B was willing to help out with something that he could have merely directed from a distance.

3. Last Friday night we got a call from friends who used to live in our area. A friend of theirs was now in a hospital about an hour from here. She had less than 48 hours to live. She was into New Age and witchcraft. They wanted someone to go visit her and share Jesus with her. I sent Lu (an older woman we know who lives that city) a message at 8:30 PM on Friday with some trepidation, knowing how nervous it would make me to get an email like this. If it had been me on the receiving end, I would have looked for reasons to get out of an assignment like this. I would have asked a ton of questions (“Will the hospital even tell me what room she’s in? I’m not a family member, not even a friend, just a friend of a friend of a friend!”)

At 8:42 Saturday morning, Lu sent me the following short email:

Yes, [another woman] and I are on our way, keep us in your prayers.

And of course we did pray. A few hours later, she wrote:

What a wonderful opportunity! Her husband, sister-in-law & nephew were all there. Her sister-in-law Dee told me that Carol had asked Jesus into her heart when she was 5 years old and had recently renewed her vows to Jesus. Dee said, "I am a Christian and I now believe that Carol is ready to meet the Lord." Praise the Lord! I laid my hand on her shoulder and prayed for her. The family was very appreciative that we came and prayed for Carol. I'm not sure of her husband's relationship to the Lord. He had a phone call and was out of the room while I was praying and had not come back in when we left. But, I will try to keep in touch. Joyfully, Lu

I was very challenged by Lu’s courage in this situation.

The common element of all three stories is that these people went beyond what mere duty required to do an act of kindness that was a great blessing to me and others.

May Jesus build this same “beyond the call” love into my own heart. Because He is the best example of this kind of love. After all the ways we have flaunted Him, mocked Him, ignored Him, and robbed Him, He could have stayed in heaven's glories and sent us all to hell -- and been totally just in doing so. Instead, He chose to take upon Himself the punishment of God that we deserved and make it possible for us to be rescued from both sin and hell. Now that is going beyond the call of duty!

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