by Jessie Flowers
I like my cozy little corner of the road. I like comfort and quiet. A lot. Throughout my life, I’ve enjoyed being alone. I enjoy eating by myself, going to the movies by myself, cooking by myself, shopping by myself, walking by myself. Thankfully, I like me.
Maybe it’s because I grew up in a really rural area as an only child. I used to spend my summer days memorizing monologues and poems – in accents. [No, I am not kidding.] My dad worked in computer technology, so we had the benefit of owning a computer earlier than most. I remember opening Encarta, [anybody who has seen Encarta, say yeah] listening to the recordings of T.S. Eliot, reciting his poetry, and then doing my best imitation. I can hear some verses in my mind now, as I type.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I really like and need people too. I enjoy shared meals, conversations, friendships, family – though probably in smaller numbers than some of you. One issue is that I feel drained of energy pretty fast and need to retreat [all the introverts said, “Amen”]. Sometimes it gets so bad that my mind starts its own little retreat in the middle of a room with people [with a hint of Marla from A League of Their Own]. So, if you see me staring off into space in a crowded room sometime, well, now you know.
I’ve also battled fear throughout my life. Fear of harm, fear of rejection, fear of man, fear of failure. You name it and I’ve probably struggled with it. Honestly, to this day, I don’t go to sleep without knowing my door is locked every night [To break it down a little more: Locking doors = not
a problem. Finding security in metal and not Jesus = problem]. Though I’ve experienced mighty deliverance, I am still a work in progress. It is the grace of God that has kept me from being the spiritual version of Mel Gibson’s character from Conspiracy Theory [currently singing Marvin Sapp’s “Never Would Have Made It”].
Now, if being a wife and a mom of two little ones doesn’t stretch my isolationist and fearful tendencies enough, enter Jesus. I have always been fascinated by the practicalities of His ministry. He lived with His disciples and many more traveled everywhere with him. On top of that, He was followed by crowds of people. He fed and spoke to thousands. I imagine hoards of people swarming around Him [it gives me hypothetical hives]. A woman was healed by pressing through crowds to touch His clothes as He walked down the street. Others were yelling, “Son of David!” as He walked. He couldn’t go anywhere without people in His space needing something. However, we never see Him complain or be curt. He stayed with people, listened, taught, and loved them. Yes, He retreated and spent time alone in prayer, but He also spent so much more time giving to others. He was generous in every way.
During this time of quarantine, my 4 year old daughter and I learned about the Good Samaritan from Luke 10. [She tells the story much better than I do, but alas, this is a blog and she cannot type] In the story, many saw the hurting man and just walked by him. They stayed in their cozy little corner of the road. But the Samaritan stopped and was generous in every way. Jesus told this parable to an expert in the law and ended His story with “Go and do likewise.”
Jesus makes it clear here that leaving our side of the road and loving our neighbor is His command and that it is costly and messy. The Samaritan left what He was doing and went over to the man, bandaged his wounds, put him on his own donkey, brought him to an inn [or “hotel,” as my daughter would say], took care of Him, paid for the room, arranged for the innkeeper to continue to look after him, and offered to pay for any expense that came up.
This is the parable Jesus tells. It isn’t a small gesture but an abundance of kindness. The same is true of the life Jesus lived for us, the life He asked His disciples to follow. He wasn’t getting by with the bare minimum, giving a small bit of Himself. He gave everything He had even unto death. The wild and deeply personal part, for all of us, is that He calls us to the same. That is the call. That is what friendship with God looks like.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”Matthew 16:24
The good news is that Jesus doesn’t ask me to go anywhere that He hasn’t. The even better news is that He’s still walking as leader and I’m still just following. That means He’s with me. The perfect One that has all authority and all the resources is with me. He is the strength made perfect in my weakness. He is Perfect Love walking with me, casting out every bit of fear I try to carry along. He is still generously unlocking the doors of my heart and bringing freedom and peace. Yes, walking with Him is hard, narrow, costly, and requires more of me than I have. The road we walk together is messy and glorious. In the darkest depth or among the largest crowd,
He’s there. He is The Way. Life Himself. Peace Himself. Love Himself. We just have to leave our cozy little corner of the road and follow Him.
So, back to my first question: Why’d the Introvert Cross the Road?
Because Jesus did.