In his book Seizing Your Divine Moment, Erwin McManus writes of a day when he was speaking at a Christian retreat in Florida.
His family had accompanied him on the trip. "My assignment," McManus relates, "was to call several thousand singles to a life of sacrifice as we basked in soothing tranquility."
During some free time, McManus and his ten-year-old son, Aaron, took a walk along the ocean. Suddenly he noted a disabled man on crutches, struggling to make his way to the water's edge to join other bathers. But because the sand was too unstable, the man fell and was unable to get up again. McManus admits that his instinct was to turn and walk in the opposite direction.
I know this instinct. It is the part of each of us that prefers not to get involved, not to face something that could be beyond our grasp. The temptation is to freeze, ignore it, hope that someone else will step up to the situation. Something in one's character goes into neutral, and self-interest threatens to trump self-sacrifice.
Not so with McManus's boy.
“My son stopped me;” McManus says.
"I have to go help that man," the boy said.
McManus: "I could only look at him and say, "Then go help him."'
When the fallen man proved too heavy for a small boy to help, others quickly gathered around and offered the necessary strength. At first the child was distressed that he could not do it himself, but McManus said, "I explained to Aaron that his strength carried the man. It was because of him that others came to his aid."
This is character in motion, best illustrated in the instincts of a ten-year-old.
Gordon MacDonald, A Resilient Life, Nelson Books: Nashville, 2004, 60-61.
Image: “Suddenly he noted a disabled man on crutches, struggling to make his way to the water's edge to join other bathers.”