Monday, May 26, 2008

When "Doing Good" Goes Awry

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up," -- Galations 6:9

My seven year old screamed at the top of her voice and her Dad came running. A baby bird's ill-fated first flight landed it squarely in the jaws of our dog.

"Blacky! Drop it!" Russell commanded. Surprisingly, the dog obeyed and Niki, who holds a deep love for every living thing, scrambled in to rescue the injured creature. Russell and Niki placed the tiny bird, wet from both the recent rain and canine druel, in a box to ensure its safety. And seeking an appropriate place for avian convolescence, they placed the box in the warm coziness of the laundry room. A good deed done, right?

The next morning, just before the girls left for school, Russell decided it was time to put the baby bird outside. Unfortunately, the creature had again made an ill-fated attempt at flight. This time landing behind the washing machine. Russ grabbed a broom to encourage it to scurry the correct direction, but instead it ran under the hot water heater. He swiped again, hit a pipe and hot water began spraying everywhere.

By now we had a lost bird, a burst pipe, and the girls were late for school.

Russell placed the bird in the box, on a fence post outside -- far from the reach of our carnivarous canines as we waited for the plumber to come.

That afternoon, the tiny creature made one last attempt at flight, equally ill-fated. The bird failed to master the necessary aerodynamics and crashed into a bucket of vinegar water which, I regret to announce, became its watery grave.

Our efforts at a good deed left us with two girls tardy for school, a burst pipe resulting in a sizeable plumbing bill, and in the end, the bird died anyway.

Ever feel that your attempts at doing good go awry? You try to reach out to others, only to have them pull away. You think that if you only do what is right and good, then things will eventually turn out okay. And then they don't. In fact, you find yourself penalized for the effort.

And so we cry out to God like inexperienced children, screaming, "It's not fair!"

But God's economy is not one of instant gratification. It is all about endurance and pressing on. And so He urges us not to "grow weary in doing good." It is an important exhortation in an era of microwave ovens and instant coffee. We want our just rewards NOW! We want the satisfaction of quick results.

But what if the time of reaping what we have sown does not occur in our lifetime? What if we never get to see with physical eyes the fruits of our labor? Are we still willing to press on, purely because of faith?

It is when we do not see the results of our good deeds that our motives are most poignantly tested. Why do we do what we do? To make ourselves feel good? To make ourselves look good? Or is it an act of obedience born out of love -- not primarily for others, but rather for God himself?

God has told us that obedience is better than sacrifice (1Sam 15:22). But often there is sacrifice in the obedience. Sometimes the sacrifice is in the giving up our "results orientated" natures and saying, "I will obey and do good, simply because I believe."

We have been given a promise -- that sooner or later, in this life or the next, a day of reaping will come. Let us be faithful enough to rest in that promise and not lose heart in doing good.

1 comment:

Nina Andrzejewski said...

I promise this sounds just like an average day in the Andrzejewski household! I'm glad to hear that others have as much fun as we do! IF you call that fun....