Would you be able to help me?

I was sitting in church listening to the preacher. I had supplied the little ones with their notepads and pencils and had instructed them to sit quietly and not talk while the preacher was preaching. They sat quietly and worked on their papers. I sat next to them trying my best to listen to the preacher. That night it was a missionary. He told of the field God to which God had called him. He talked about how time was short; but informed us that he was praying for more time -time to reach the lost. He seemed desperate; like the task in front of him was bigger than he and time was shorter than needed to accomplish the task.

The missionary told us the text from which he would be preaching. We turned and read, and the children colored on quietly. The flow of the preacher’s voice turned to a cadence that represents a preaching/proclaiming tone. If you have sat in church for long at all you know the tone. The children colored and sat quietly and I was taking notes trying to stay focused on the message.

Then, the cadence stopped. The missionary said in an almost conversational tone, “Would you be able to help me?” He did not sound like he was preaching (although he still was). He sounded like he was talking, almost pleading. The question was abrupt in his message. Like he stopped preaching and was opening his heart to us. The plea was genuine. “Would you be able to help me?”

I have heard that before. I have sat through services and heard the same question from more than one missionary; but until that day, I had never seen the same response. It came from my son. My son who is challenged by autism. My son whom I wonder at times how much is getting in and how much he understands. Zak was sitting there quietly coloring (on this particular night it was a calendar and numbers – his most recent obsession). He did not appear to be tuned into the preacher or be taking in what was being said from the pulpit just feet from where he sat. However, he had been listening. He had heard the question the same as I had even though his face never left the paper from which he was coloring.

“Would you be able to help me?”

As quickly as the question was asked Zak responded. “Yes, I will.” He dropped his pencil and threw his paper to his side and started to get up to go help the man who had asked for help. I quickly pushed him back down in his seat and told him to sit down. Then, his mind realized that the preacher was still preaching and was not talking directly to him.

Or, was he?

I directed him to keep coloring and he sat back down and went back to the numbers on his page; entering  again into his own world of numbers; a world where he spends a lot time. However,I found out that night, his world is not so closed up as to be deaf to hear the call for help.

“Would you be able to help me?”

His response convicted me.

How many times had I heard the same question?

How many times had I responded the same way? How many times had I dropped all that was consuming me in my little world and jumped up to help someone desperate enough to ask for help? How many times had the question been shoved aside as if it was intended for someone else?

God convicted me that night, long before the invitation was ever given. Gently He said, “That’s how I want you to respond.”

I am reminded again about the quote that has completely transformed my thinking:

“If not now – when? If not me – who?”

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