Two Sides of the Fence


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By:  Kathy A. Weckwerth … OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOver the years and career of this path I’ve been on, the one called My Life, I have settled into the cool feel of grassy blades tickling my toes, while standing on that carved out path.  I have also felt the bite of rugged stones and sticks that have jabbed into my toes, reminding me that my side is not grassy and lush that day.   But for this day, I want to tell you about the fence.

In every life we have a fence.  It’s a fence that separates you from them, me from her, them from others, and we all experience being on the path and looking across that old wooden fence to see what’s happening on the other side.

(photo by Dean Weckwerth)

During my years at church ministry, I often saw the needs of so many, and watched how the pastors and staff would support … or would not.

Elderly would call up needing a ride to the doctor and the secretary would arrange a ride.  Or a woman in need of financial support, going through a divorce crisis with her many children would call up and they would chastise her for her decision and begrudgingly send over a small check for gas, while the children were living on bread and peanut butter.

I have stood on my side of the fence peering across the rough tops of each of its posts as someone has asked me for financial help, and I reached into my pocket for a few small bills, while another soul wrote and begged for yearly support and I tossed it in the garbage.

And yet, at times, I have stood on my side of the fence, in my bare feet, cut and bleeding from the travels and begged for others to support me, only to find generous checks and large boxes of chocolate chip cookies, or a mere click of their computer keyboard to say, “Sorry … uh, uh.”

The path continues.  The journey twists and turns and as I get older I watch to see what happens when someone who has much on the green grassy fields of their side of the fence steps up to the fencepost to say yes or no to that certain traveler on the muddy, rugged, rough side.  I listen and I watch.

At times, I am pleased and I can feel my Father saying, “They chose wisely.”  And at other times I am in awe at the selfishness and haphazard responses of those who can help but will not.

Yesterday I found myself at the fence.  I reached into my pocket to pull out a few dollars of financial support and a few moments of prayer support.  I wished that I could do more.  I could not.  I did what I could and gave all I could give.

Today, I found myself at the fence.  I reached out to someone and said this need is bigger than our resources for our ministry.  They looked me square in the face and turned and walked away. They chose not to help. 

What happens when God calls us to meet at the fence?  What happens when He says I need you to help someone?  How do we respond?

When we look at the book of Esther 4:13, Queen Esther is challenged by her cousin, Mordecai.  He needs her to go before King Xerxes to try to save the Jews from being killed by Haman and his evil plans.

With Queen Esther on one side and Mordecai on the other, Mordecai simply says this, “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape.  For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish.”

God does not need us to stand at the fence dumbfounded.  We do not need to look at our ragged and torn shoes and dry ground and look across at the neighbors lovely lush field and his brand new boots and not wonder if God wants them to help us, or us to help others.

When we are asked to help someone, we have the choice, as Esther did.  And if we do not respond, and turn and walk away, God tells us simply that He is the Ultimate provider, but in Esther’s circumstances, it’s quite clear she will lose out on the blessing of helping, as God will give that blessing to someone else.

Where are we today on our path?  Are you looking across at a need that your friend or neighbor has?  Perhaps it’s a neighboring church or ministry that needs you or something you have to offer.  But you stare them down and walk away.

Or maybe it’s you in need and you’re begging God for provisions, but that someone He has sent to you says, “No.”

Will we miss out on that blessing?  Will the relief and deliverance arise from another place because we were not obedient? 

Today, I have my eyes wide open.  I’ve tied my shoelaces and I’m hiking the path.  Will I need help?  Probably.  Will my neighbor?  Most likely. 

But the real question is this … will I watch and listen for God, who is gently calling me to the fence post?  Because somehow, somewhere, in the face of that someone in need, I see the face of Jesus.