Friday, March 16, 2012

The Luck O' the Irish

1 Corinthians 9:18
What then is my reward?  Just this:  that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights as a preacher of the gospel.

It is the summer of 1976.

Along with thirty other college students, I have completed and eight-week literature study of British authors in their native setting.  Yes!  Staying in London and Oxford and Edinburgh.  Taking in all the marvelous sites these historical cities have to offer.

With plenteous bus tours to the countryside.  Stonehenge.  The Lake Country.  Loch Ness.  Salisbury Cathedral.

It has all been glorious!

Now, ten days of travel on our own stretch invitingly before us.

Weeks hence, three of us decide we will spend our free time in Ireland.

We take  a train to Wales and board a ferry at the port of Holyhead.

Docking in Dublin, our first order of business is to rent a car.  We have traced the routes we wish to take and sites we want to see, but, in our youth and naivete, we don't bother to reserve places to stay.

We'll just wing it!  Hope for the best.

Why, there's bound to be a Bed & Breakfast anywhere we turn.

This is an adventure!

Aside from charging the obvious Americans what we all agree is a monstrous amount for a rental vehicle, we delightedly take the car.  The nightmare of negotiating the hideous confusion of Dublin traffic and acclimating to being on the "wrong side" of the road is quickly and thankfully behind us.

We are out of the city.  Into the country.

In the middle of nowhere.

It happens . . .

A flat tire.  Which, none of us knows how to fix.

The only abode in sight is a modest farmhouse set 200 yards from the road.  We head for it.  Praying the occupants will kindly allow us to use the phone.

A humbly dressed woman with a pleasant face and a smile betraying the loss of not a few teeth greets us.  We learn, to our chagrin, there is no phone.

"But, my husband will be here shortly.  I'll send him to help you," she graciously assures us.

Within moments of returning to our car, a ram-shackle, out-dated pick-up truck rattles and coughs down the road to the house.  It is the woman's husband.  Who, immediately upon reaching home, turns promptly around and heads our way.

He nods politely and gets straight to work without a word.  Our chorus of thanks fall on deaf ears.  In ten minutes, our tire is changed and we are good to go.

We try to pay him for his help.  Compensate him for his time.

He's down on his luck.  We know he could use the money.

The farmer holds up his hand and shakes his head in firm refusal.  When we insist, he simply climbs into his truck and roars away.

Just like that . . .
~
Have you ever been helped by a stranger who desired nothing in return?

Will you join me in prayer?
Thank You, Father, for the blessed souls in this world who selflessly give of their time to meet the needs of others.  May we all show the same caring and kindness as this farmer in Ireland did to three hapless and wayfaring strangers so many years ago.  Grant us the grace to do so.  Amen.


Readings
Psalms 95, 88 or 91, 92
Genesis 47:1-26
1 Corinthians 9:16-27
Mark 6:47-56
 

12 comments:

  1. Martha, many of times someone has appeared out of the blue to help me in a time of need, helping with no strings attached. They are polite when offered money, but do not accept it. I do the very same thing when I help someone. I live by the 'pay it forward' motto. When you do for others, you should do because you want to, not because you want something in return :)

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    1. Hi, Mary, I'm so glad to see you here!
      I, too, love the idea that we "pay it forward" in this life. There are too many folks out there with the "what's in it for me" attitude. Thank goodness for those, who, like this farmer, give with no expectations of receiving in return.
      Sorry we missed each other several days ago; I will be sure to let you know the next time Danny and I are traveling in your direction. :)
      Blessings to you!

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  2. Hello Martha.
    I came across such hospitality years ago when I was visiting Poland for the first time. The people there were dirt poor & I was a stranger to them, but my hosts put me up for a whole week, fed me a feast like I've never had & refused to accept any payment from me. Their joy was ensuring I was comfortable in their meager home. I can't tell you how much they touched me with their hospitality. Thankfully, such people still exist today...people who are willing to do good deeds without expecting a monetary payment in return. For me, it's not about the money. The desire to do good comes from within. If I can make someone smile as a result of my actions, then that's payment enough for me.

    Delightful post.
    Thanks for sharing.

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    Replies
    1. What a beautiful story, Andy. I know you will remember the kindness and hospitality of these selfless people all of your life.
      And, so true - our desire to do good deeds and treat others as we would wish to be treated must come from within our hearts. A smile, I agree, is the best payment any of us could ever have.
      Thanks so much for stopping by today!
      Blessings to you!

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  3. I have been helped by strangers in the past...Beautiful blessings they have been! In a really bad thunder storm, when my daughter was about six months old, my car broke down at a really dangerous intersection. I felt if we stayed in the car we might have gotten hit, so we had to leave it. I was walking through the storm, rain pelting down, drenching us both, and the nearest store about two miles away! A mother with a young child stopped and picked us up and brought us home. I was so unbelievably grateful!

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    1. Oh, wow, Jessica, what a marvelous story! I know you will always remember the kindness of this mother when you truly needed an angel to step in and lend a hand. It is so great knowing there are people out there who are willing to go the extra mile for us.
      Thanks for stopping by!
      Blessings to you!

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  4. Our immediate reaction to a kind and generous heart is to return back the favor. How difficult it is most often to just receive pure love from angels. Well, perhaps because it's so natural to reciprocate. But I'd often reflect, what if the person who helped me is someone I dislike? Would it be as easy to give a reward?

    I loved the passage that you used in Corinthians...it makes me go back to the many times, I ask Jesus for my reward for doing good things to people...but He always shows me how infinite His love is and my reward could only be felt when I share my blessings to others.How true!

    I pray with you. May God guide me always to pay the goodness forward :) not necessarily back :)

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    1. So great to see you here, Melissa! I am headed over to your blog as soon as I leave here. :)
      You have certainly put forth an interesting twist here - what if that someone who helps us is not someone we like? Maybe, when that happens, it is God's way of showing us that we are not the ultimate judges in any situation - only He can do that.
      Yes, His love is infinite. If we truly stop and contemplate this, His is the only love, the sufficient one, that will always meet our needs and guide us as we reach out to meet the needs of others.
      Let us, prayerfully, pay it forward . . .
      Blessings to you!

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  5. ...giving free of expectation is one of the greatest gifts one can receive. It took me a long time to understand that!

    great post.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Amy!
      Yes, being given something by one who expects nothing in return is so amazing. That's why our experiences with these moments stay firmly in our memories.
      Blessings to you!

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  6. I have been helped by strangers and I look at them as my angels.... When an kind gesture is made or given to me I like to reciprocate to another...

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Savira!
      I love that you "look at them as my angels . . ." Perfect image!
      And, when we have been shown a kindness, it certainly does make us want to do the same to others. That's what I call good karma! :)
      Blessings to you!

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1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ...