Chicago.  A week before Christmas, some years ago.  It is cold!  Snow on the streets and sidewalks.  And I heard the voice of God say to me:  “Help him!”  I looked, there was no one there.  Then I heard the Voice again, and I looked again and there, lying in the middle of Clark St. was an elderly man, unable to rise, cars driving around him.  So I acted, I helped, and the act became a focus point of my thoughts the remainder of that night and the next day.  Had I done enough?  What else should I have done? What happened to the man?

The next day was Sunday.  We arrived early at the Fourth Presbyterian Church for special music by Paul Winter on the alto sax, played from high above the choir loft.  The lovely music flooded over us and once again, it was as if God was speaking to me through the music and I felt the warmth of His forgiveness.

God spoke to me that day, sounding a lot like my wife, and a lesson was learned.  My reach needed to exceed my grasp.  Or, said a different way, my actions needed to exceed my understanding of what I was called upon to do at a specific moment.  No deep analyzing, just responding.  Can I go beyond my comfort zone, my warmth, my safety in the interest and need of others?  Will I go beyond my fears to be a brother to an unknown other?

Do I really believe that “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength”?  I’d like to think so…but the test will be, when that Voice speaks again and I, alone, must act, must reach, must “exceed”, will I?  Would you?  Hmmm.

Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?  (R. Browning)

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