Recently I was walking around my neighborhood and my daughter was with me. I was walking, she was riding her bike and was a little faster than me. She rode on ahead around a long bend in the road and out of sight. As I came around the bend she was a few hundred yards ahead and she had fallen off her bike and was lying face down in the street.
I started running to her frantic and shouting, “Bella! Are you Ok? Are you hurt?” Asking her to get up, if she could.
As I was running I noticed a lady not five feet from my daughter gardening. She didn’t stop her gardening to help. I thought it a little strange. I was running toward both of them shouting, Bella was on the ground crying, and the lady just kept working in her flower bed.
If the lady had looked up, even the slightest raise of her head, she would have been looking right at my daughter. She just never stopped her busy gardening.
When I got to my daughter she had only minimal scratches and bruises, nothing serious. She was more scared than hurt, but still crying.
While dusting street debris off my daughter, checking her hands and knees and elbows, I was also watching the lady who was engrossed in her gardening. How was this lady able to completely ignore a little girl lying face down in the street, legs tangled in her bike, crying? Let alone miss a mom’s frantic shouting. The lady was five feet away. It was no small commotion. Hard to not be aware of the unfolding drama…
I straightened the handlebars of the bike, helped my daughter back on, and sent her on her way. I took one last glance in the direction of the lady, not even a head nod from her to say hello.
As I started walking again, I asked God, “Was it weird, that lady? I mean, you’d have to be blind and deaf to miss that. Was it weird?”
Immediately the Holy Spirit spoke, “The church does this to world all the time.” This was a very quick and stunning reply. My heart ached.
The church is too busy tending and protecting her own garden to notice the problems people have and their desperate cries for help.
My daughter was dangerously sprawled facedown in the middle of the road. The lady ignored the danger.
My daughter was hurt and crying. The lady ignored her pain.
My daughter couldn’t untangle her legs from the bike without help. The lady was engrossed in her self-important flower arranging–hoping to impress other flower arrangers?–and didn’t help untangle my daughters legs.
But I’m sure the lady thought she was doing a great job because her flowers were looking beautiful. They were exceptionally organized in nice neat rows. There were no unsightly weeds. She was meticulous in the smallest detail. Other flower arrangers were sure to think she was a master gardener and line up to ask her all her gardening skills. Her garden looked so good, she might start a club or some kind of network for other gardeners. She had so much she could teach them…
But I just hear the words of Jesus over and over:
Jesus said, I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me,’ Matthew 25:35-40.