What would you do if you had a random stranger show up at your door asking for some food? Or, what would you do if you had a friend show up at your door in tears asking to use your phone and grab a glass of water? Of course, the other fun scenario is that drunk guy on the corner of Main Street, USA asking you for your spare change for, "some food." What do you tell him? Do you give him your change?
These questions are the premise of a book I completed reading last week. "Strangers At My Door" by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove is a biography of sorts. He (Jonathan) chronicles the adventures of making his family home an outreach/mission. Not just any mission or outreach that you might be familiar with. He and his wife decided to take the Bible at its word, decided to open their front door to anyone and everyone, and watch what happened in the lives that walked through the door - including theirs.
Such a powerful book. Despite it being different than I had anticipated, the ending was indeed challenging. Open your door. Don't be afraid, no matter how scary the act might be. We know the knock is coming, so be ready. Even when the knock interrupts a meal, a family movie, or your alone time, just be ready and answer.
But, this is not a book review. I'm not good at writing reviews. I have a hard time finding anything wrong with books. If I don't like the book at the beginning, I'm not gonna read it. If I like the book, I read it and will recommend it to people. But, to write a review, yeah, not my calling.
Let's revisit the questions above. What do you do when you have a knock at your door? Usually, I'm curious wondering who it is that is knocking. But what if the knocking at my door is just a metaphor for something bigger? What if there is a broader application of that door? Is it possible that any knock on a door is a reference to the hungry guy on the corner as I walk through downtown?
As the book concluded, one line really spoke to me. Jonathan is talking about family meals, the banquet John saw in his dream while on Patmos and his haphazard family sitting at his table. "You do not know what tomorrow will bring, but you whisper the only grace that makes sense at such a meal: 'Thank you. Help us. Come, Lord Jesus. Amen.'" Simple right? Wait, what were those two words after thank you?
Help us! Help with what? Reading the book, Jonathan speaks frequently of what he needed help with. He was often hesitant to ask for help, especially when it was seemingly the same people being asked of. But, he asked, even when it was hard.
Asking, this is what this blog is about. What is the hardest part of asking for help? Is it the pride keeping us from seeking help? Or is it the shame in acknowledging our need and inability to provide for that particular area in our lives? Maybe it is even the simple lack of knowledge of who could help. Whatever it is, there is a huge void in our lives when it comes to asking for help. Even more tragic, is the fact that for those of us that attend a church regularly seem to avoid seeking help even more than those that don't attend church. Oh SNAP!!! I just admitted that!
Yes, I'm call out myself and others that attend church. If we need help, why are we so afraid to seek the help? And if we are so afraid to ask for help, does that prevent us from opening our door to those who knock seeking help? Doesn't God tell us that if we seek, we find? If we ask, we receive, don't we? Well, do we believe what he says? Or is it just lip service? And for those that are knocking at our door (literal or figurative doors), they must not be to afraid to ask. But, are we too afraid to answer?
Am I making sense? Am I the only one seeing this paradox? I must confess, I'm not perfect at any of this. Sure, growing up as a pastors kid (or church board members kid) there were times I remember a knock on our door at odd hours of the night, during meals or family time. I remember my dad being late to pick up my brother or I because of someone needing help. Answering the door has never really been a problem as God has always provided both the example to teach, and now continually provides a way for Janda and I to provide. Yes, we've received calls and knocks at odd hours from bands and friends needing a place to stay, or needing a meal, or just someone to talk to. We love that, but it doesn't mean we've been perfect. But the part I struggle with (even after learning how) is the asking for help.
Going through my battle with cancer taught me it is okay to seek help. I had to ask for help. There was no way to survive without that help. I marvel still today over how much help we received during that year. Yet, it seems I still have a long way to go in learning how...and when to ask. I find that I'm not alone in this lesson. I know too many people who are afraid to ask for help, especially from the ones that are supposed to be helping. It shouldn't be this way. Christians shouldn't be afraid to ask other Christians for help!!! Yet, we are. We just don't, and it needs fixed. But how?
Here is my challenge: Ask. Ask for help, even when it is gonna hurt, ask for help. Even if you don't know what you need help with, ask. When you're done asking, then open the door when you hear a knock. Maybe, that knock you hear is more than just someone needing help. Maybe, just maybe that knock is someone there to help you when you need it most and don't know how to ask. Helping them turns out to be the best help that you can not only provide, but receive.
Yes, that is the one thing in "Strangers At My Door" that I learned. Jonathan wound up providing so much help, that eventually, those he was helping became the ones that helped him the most. Helped him learn to lean on God more than he ever knew he was going to have to. Helped him to trust, even those that could hurt him or his family. Helped him pray when he had no idea how to pray. Helped him to just ask.
Who is your stranger? What is your door?