One good deed

The Progress-Index Weekend - - RELIGION - DR. JAMES L. SNY­DER

Have you ever had the feel­ing that any good deed you try is coun­ter­acted by a good swift kick in the pants?

I re­cently grabbed a quick lunch at a lo­cal res­tau­rant. I don’t like eat­ing at fast food restau­rants, but, oc­ca­sion­ally, I don’t have much choice. Then, once in the res­tau­rant the menu doesn’t give me much choice, ei­ther.

I or­dered my lunch and set­tled at a cor­ner ta­ble. About half­way through my lunch an older cou­ple took the ta­ble next to me. Be­ing a “peo­ple watcher,” which is a fancy way of say­ing, “I’m nosy,” I watched this cou­ple out of the cor­ner of my eye.

I no­ticed right away the woman got her things sit­u­ated im­me­di­ately. Not so with the man.

He strug­gled to un­wrap the plas­tic fork. He fum­bled try­ing to break the plas­tic wrap­ping and free his fork so he could be­gin eat­ing. Noth­ing he did seemed to ad­vance his cause.

With­out miss­ing a beat, his wife reached over, took the wrapped fork from her hus­band, popped it open in one easy mo­tion and handed it back to him. With­out say­ing a word, he took it and be­gan eat­ing.

This in­ci­dent re­minded me of some­thing that hap­pened the

week be­fore.

A friend phoned, ask­ing me if I could help a friend of his who was mov­ing from Florida to Vir­ginia and had no­body to help him. Im­me­di­ately I agreed to help all I could. Af­ter hang­ing up my phone, I won­dered what I had got­ten my­self into.

I told him to have this per­son call me. I fig­ured if he doesn’t call, I wouldn’t have to help. No sooner had this thought ram­bled through the lit­tle gray cells, then the tele­phone rang. It was this per­son re­quest­ing my as­sis­tance.

I in­vited him to church on Sun­day and we would see how we could help him. I hoped the “we” did not mean “me.” Af­ter hang­ing up the tele­phone, I told my wife the in­ci­dent and she re­as­sur­ingly said, “He may not even come to church.” I took com­fort in her sug­ges­tion.

On Sun­day morn­ing, an hour be­fore ser­vices, this per­son showed up at church. He in­tro­duced him­self and we got ac­quainted.

“All I have,” he as­sured me, “are 25 boxes of books that I need to take to the post of­fice so I can mail them to where I am go­ing.”

Well, I mused, this may not be as bad as I thought.

On awak­en­ing Mon­day morn­ing, sec­ond thoughts about the whole project bom­barded my empty head. I was try­ing to think of some way to gra­ciously bow out of the whole mess.

I have a prob­lem pro­nounc­ing the word “no.” You have no idea the trou­ble this has brought me. I’m think­ing of con­sult­ing a speech ther­a­pist to help me.

My watch told me I was run­ning a lit­tle late. I wish my watch would tell me how to get out of such predica­ments. But when I in­quired, it didn’t give a tick. Then an idea burst in my nog­gin. If he said any­thing about me be­ing late I will get mad, turn around and go home. Or, if he wasn’t ready to move the boxes when I got there, I would, in a huff, turn around and stomp off and go home.

It’s been such a long time since I got mad or an­gry that I wasn’t con­fi­dent of my plan. But, I rea­soned to my­self, it’s worth a try.

I found my­self run­ning about 45 min­utes late. I was grin­ning to my­self, think­ing this would be enough to make him say some­thing about my tar­di­ness.

When I ar­rived, he was wait­ing for me with ev­ery­thing in readi­ness. He greeted me in a very cheery voice and made no men­tion what­so­ever about my late­ness. This dis­tressed me. Sur­vey­ing the work be­fore us, I fig­ured it would only a few hours to load the truck, drive to the post of­fice, which was only a cou­ple blocks away.

I had the aus­pi­cious job of lift­ing ev­ery box from the truck up on to the dolly on the dock, sev­eral feet over my head. Com­pli­cat­ing things even more, the post of­fice per­son­nel su­per­vis­ing the un­load­ing of th­ese boxes was a woman. This meant I could not groan nor com­plain about the strain of lift­ing boxes sev­eral feet over my head. I guess it must be a man-thing.

I was won­der­ing while work­ing, just why he asked for help. Re­ally, this was not a two-man job. He could have done this quite nicely all by him­self.

Then the real rea­son slipped out from un­der a nearby rock where it had been hid­ing.

“The school where I will be teach­ing,” he be­gan, “will re­im­burse me for all my ex­penses in mov­ing. But ...” I was now ready for the rest of the story. “But, I am a lit­tle short on cash and was won­der­ing if you could help me? I’ll be glad to send the money back to you.” Then I got mad. I thought he wanted a hand up when in re­al­ity he wanted a hand out.

Driv­ing home I was re­minded of what the Bible said, “And let us not be weary in well do­ing: for in due sea­son we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have there­fore op­por­tu­nity, let us do good unto all men, es­pe­cially unto them who are of the house­hold of faith.” (Gala­tians 6:9-10).

I re­mem­bered what some­one told me once. No­body can take ad­van­tage of a Good Sa­mar­i­tan.

—Dr. James L. Sny­der is pas­tor of the Fam­ily of God Fel­low­ship, 1471 Pine Road, Ocala, FL 34472. He lives with his wife in Sil­ver Springs Shores. Call him at 352-687-4240 or e-mail jamess­ny­ The church web site is www. whatafel­low­

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