29
Jan
13

adrift at sea

I read an article about three Panamanian fishermen who lost power in their small boat and were drifting in the open sea. A Princess Cruises ship had passengers looking for birds who spotted the boat. The people who spotted the boat reported it, but apparently the message never went up the chain of command. The people also thought they had done their duty by simply reporting it. Two of the three men died as they floated for a subsequent two weeks before being rescued near the Galapagos Islands nearly 600 miles from their original point.

Is this a parable of our times? The wealthy who bask in comfort can see the poor and distressed perishing, yet we pass the buck to the government, a church, or a non-profit to help people on our behalf. Certainly the government, the church, and other organizations should help people, and we should be involved with them and support them. But, at what point do we, do I, take personal responsibility for someone I see in need?

I have walked past that person begging on the streets and not put money in their cup because, in my mind, they’ll only spend it on things that contribute to their situation. But I also haven’t considered in what other ways I might help that person. Some people don’t want help, and you can’t fix that. But there are situations that are different, and there are solutions that don’t require mindlessly throwing money at a problem. Philippians 2:3 says, “Count others more significant than yourself.” Not everyone is in a state of imminent death, but there are people all around us with real problems to which we can provide real solutions. First we have to care. Second we have to take time, because most real problems aren’t a quick fix. And third, we have to be willing to invite inconvenience into our lives in order to aid another person.

If I was the person who spotted that boat, I wonder what I would have done? I hope I would have gone crazy until they either rescued those men or locked me up. I wonder what I will do the next time I have an opportunity to truly help someone in a deep way?

What would you have done? What will you do?

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