26 March 2014

"What About Bob?"

This week, I chose the prompt that reads “Go out of your way to help someone this week.” It seemed like a pretty easy prompt for my first go around. I wrote this in the Dipping format, where I tell a bit of story, then I explain, then I tell a bit of story, then I explain. When I went out of my way to help out, I learned that every time I give someone a helping hand, even when I don’t want to, I always feel good about it later.

The wife and I were 30 minutes early to the early service at church this past Sunday. When it comes to early anything, one of us usually sleeps right through it, and it isn’t the pregnant one. Somehow, we managed. Filled to the brim with caffeine and braving the aggravating, nippy wind chill, we drove to Faith Bible in Lincoln. There were just two things that could get me out of bed that morning: an angry, pregnant wife, and the fact that we were only signed up to help usher for the first service.

And how!
Photo Courtesy yfnjman.com

It sounds pretty selfish and lazy, doesn’t it? I suppose in some way, it is. However, the truth of the matter is, I have a problem when it comes to saying “no” to requests and taking care of myself. I have documented proof. And, as the proof states, all my busyness made me a pretty big tool. Shocker, I know. As a result, I started to be more greedy with my time. Not “free time”, mind you; there’s no such thing as free time. I say “no” to many requests and demands so I can put that time to spend with the aforementioned pregnant wife (and in-utero boychild).

We hand out lots of bulletins...
Photo Courtesy Faith Bible of Lincoln

We got prime-parking (not because there’s pregnant-parking or anything...we were just really early). We walked in, got our name tags, and manned our door. All was right in our very small corner of the world. That’s when Bob walked up.

“Oh, no...he’s going to ask us to help the second service, isn’t he?” I mumbled under my breath.


“Shut your face,” my very pregnant, surprisingly powerful wife hissed as she whacked the back of my head.

You see, Bob is an interesting, very kind member of our body of believers. He’s an elderly gentleman--maybe in his mid-seventies. He wears very thick glasses, he has his hair carefully combed, and he wears the same brown, heavy wool suit jacket and pants. Even more obvious than his wardrobe is his passion for ushering. He loves that job.


He’s hyper-aware when someone is missing. He likes to get a very accurate count of visitors. It’s important to Bob that the ushers work in unison. And he ushered both services every Sunday since before Noah built the ark.

He also loves people. Especially my very-pregnant wife.

“How are you doing? You’re getting close! How many days left?” Bob asked as he put his well-tailored arm around my very pregnant wife.

“Four weeks!” my wife beamed.

“Well, we’ll have to figure out who can help usher when, because pretty soon you won’t be able to help for a while! You better take six weeks off,” Bob speculated.

As if Bob were our employer offering us a really sweet maternity leave from our volunteer job. I nearly laughed out loud. The wife and I actually had talks about this baby being our “out” of the ushering service.

“It’s a pretty big problem. We’re short for second service again. We’ll make it work, but it’s getting difficult to keep things going,” Bob said.

The wife looked at me.

I looked at the wife.

In the way that only a wife who knows everything about her husband can, the wife had a wordless conversation with me.

The wife smiled at me. He’s asking us for help, but he’s too kind to ask. Offer to help him.

I smiled a little less-so back. Seriously?! They’ll be fine! I’ve got work to do at home later! And I’m really hungry...

The wife tilts her head ever so slightly. Blake, I will end you.

“Hey Bob, we can stick around for second service if you need us,” I offered.

Bob beamed. I visibly saw a great weight lift from his shoulders.

Why is this? Why is something so insignificant so important to this man?

We went on to help during the second service. It was minor. It only took an extra 20 minutes. The world didn’t shine more brightly, nor did the birds sing more sweetly.

But somewhere in that 20 minute time span, it hit me.

You see, in my efforts to be more purposeful with my time, I’ve run into this area where I withhold help that I should offer. It took a very pregnant wife with the power to quite literally crush my skull to help point that out.

I also came to realize that our friend Bob is a bit on the lonely side. He’s either widowed, or was never married. He has no children nearby that we know of. And he’s quite-obviously retired. In essence, the once-a-week ushering job is his entire world, and his main source of connectedness.

The world wouldn’t have ended if we didn’t stay to help. The skies wouldn’t have shone less brightly. The birds didn’t start tweeting a funeral dirge.

But in one man’s world--in Bob’s world--a little more joy took hold. For an extra 20 minutes, Bob’s world was a little less lonely.

And it couldn’t have made me happier.

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