Fetch or Keep Away?

A very hot run that I shouldn’t have done yesterday resulted in observing something quite special. I was rounding a cul-de-sac and noticed a little Jack Russell terrier coming bounding down his driveway, straight for me. I have been bitten twice by dogs while running, so my radar was UP. But this little fellow was running after a tennis ball that his owner had just thrown. The owner and his wife were standing in the shade of their garage overhang, throwing the ball from that relatively cool spot. I say relatively, as yesterday was a day that we “might as well be walking on the sun,” even in the shade. I had a thought to ask if I might come down the driveway and melt into a puddle as I watched them play fetch with their dog.

But as he bounded past me to retrieve and return the ball, Jack the Russell ran straight over to the mailbox and dropped it. Then I noticed a pile of about 30 balls there, and I realized that I didn’t know jack. This wasn’t fetch, it was keep away. His poor owner was down to his last two balls, then had to walk into the solar flare known as OBX in July and retrieve all the balls himself.

This is why I have a retriever. She may be bad to the bone, but she will bring you things: in fact, just this morning she tried to give a pair of my unmentionables to the HOUSE PAINTER. Geez, Georgia, this would have been a better time to play keep away!

In the book of Romans, Paul is laying the ground work for the new church to be a place where the gospel of Jesus Christ is not kept rolled around Torah scrolls and locked in a cabinet, but rather is shared widely and deliberately in the marketplace, on the roads, in the homes, around the tables….everywhere. The Jews were more accustomed to playing keep away. Their faith system depended on being born into the a Jewish family. Jesus’ radical ministry was a new thing, a game of round robin fetch: I have something I throw to you, you retrieve it and return it to somebody else, etc.

Romans 10:13 “Scripture reassures us, “No one who trusts God like this—heart and soul—will ever regret it.” It’s exactly the same no matter what a person’s religious background may be: the same God for all of us, acting the same incredibly generous way to everyone who calls out for help. “Everyone who calls, ‘Help, God!’ gets help.”

But how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it? That’s why Scripture exclaims,

A sight to take your breath away!
Grand processions of people
    telling all the good things of God!

But not everybody is ready for this, ready to see and hear and act. Isaiah asked what we all ask at one time or another: “Does anyone care, God? Is anyone listening and believing a word of it?” The point is: Before you trust, you have to listen. But unless Christ’s Word is shared, there’s nothing to listen to.

And whenever we throw out the word of God, it never returns to us void, but instead brings others into its fold.

Sometimes folks get the love of God in their hearts and just keep it for themselves. Sometimes churches think that the gospel hope they have is meant to bless all those who are within their own four walls. Sometimes we hold on to our resources, our testimonies, our ability to serve others, and our salvation, thinking it was meant only for us.

Sometimes we are wrong.

There is no keep away in the kingdom of God. He tosses out his very best in hopes that we will catch it, and share it with someone else. His very best was his only Son, so that whosoever believes in him would not perish, but have eternal life. But nobody believes and calls on a savior they haven’t heard about. And nobody can hear without someone sharing with them. And nobody can share without being sent. Those who go out to bring the good news are the beauty of the Lord.

Where are you being called to tell all the good things of God to someone today? Remember everyone who calls ‘Help, God’ gets help. Somebody near you is in dire need of help. Today is a great day to share the love of God with someone who desperately needs it. Don’t just keep it for yourself.

Lake Peachtree, by Kathy Schumacher.

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