Tracy is a thirty-something mom living out her faith. The embodiment of her compassion has curly hair, mocha eyes and a healthy appetite—a six-week old foster child she keeps as a volunteer in a Christian crisis care organization. Last month, I visited Tracy for a few days. I watched her care for this sweet baby boy, marveling and worrying like a true mother. Her love and service touched me deeply.
And I wanted none of it.
I pondered on the long drive home. I knew that Tracy was doing important work. She was changing a life and influencing others with a tangible expression of "love your neighbor." But as much as I admire Tracy, I didn't rush to fill out any foster baby forms.
My friend Anne is another big-hearted woman who loves God. She is currently arranging backyard Bible clubs—in her backyard and others—so that she can teach her children and their friends this summer. Anne expresses her Jesus-passion in songs and crafts and joy that makes children love her.
And I want none of that.
Backyard Bible clubs and foster babies? It's just…not my thing.
A recent post, "Can We Serve Too Much?" generated some great discussion about how much—and why—we serve others. Is there a limit to what we give? Is there an art to the spiritual discipline of meeting needs?
We know that compassion is a central focus of our faith. If God had a business card, his job title would be "compassionate and gracious." He almost trips over himself in the Old Testament, telling his people repeatedly about his merciful and loving character.
It was no different for his Son. Whenever the Gospels mention Jesus' compassion, he takes action. He does something with his feelings. He teaches, heals, feeds, and prays for the people who seek his care.
But here's the thing: he doesn't meet every need.
At the pool in Jerusalem, Jesus healed the paralytic—but how many crippled bodies and broken souls did he step over?
At the village of Nain, Jesus raised the young son of a widow from the dead—but how many funerals did he attend as a mourner?
On the hillside by the Sea of Galilee, Jesus fed thousands—but how many hungry beggars did he walk by in his life?
On earth, Jesus taught, healed, fed, and prayed— he did his thing. But while Jesus took on flesh, he didn't do it all. I wrestle with the divine plan of Jesus' humanity. Of his chosen limits of power on earth. I wrestle with it, but I appreciate it. I wonder if Jesus felt frustrated by his limitations. I wonder if he felt the human-ness of experiencing unmet needs in a world crying out for more.