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We Show Up
Kelly Jahn
Kelly Jahn

One of the things that I love the most about living the rural life is the people. I am endlessly awed at the beautiful sunrises and sunsets, the green fields just shooting up, the animals out grazing, but what really makes me see that this is God’s land is the people.  Rural people show up.

We show up to the wakes and funerals, even when they’re on a weeknight/weekday. We bring our desserts and deviled eggs for the funeral meal. We show up for people who are sick: bringing food, mowing yards. We show up for the elderly: bringing their mail in when it’s icy out, shoveling sidewalks, making sure that the lights go on in the evening on cue. We show up when someone’s house burns or when the storms cause damage. We show up for community fundraisers and for school events. We just show up.

Someone just mentioned to me that it’s because we know our neighbors more. She said that when her sister was visiting, they were driving and this person could tell her sister who lived in each of the houses. I think that’s a piece of it, but I think it’s more just the rural heart. The person who is drawn to the rural lifestyle is the person who will give you the shirt off their back — yes, even you curmudgeons — I see you!  

What makes us go out of our way? What makes us walk into painful situations to lend a shoulder? What makes us reach out to one another? I had to go to the Bible to see what it had to say about this.  

And the first thing I ran across was the story of Job. Now Job had been (literally) bedeviled. Family killed, livestock stolen or dead, sores on his body. He was a wreck! But here come his three friends. They showed up.  It says that they “met together to go and sympathize with him and comfort him”. And they sat with him for SEVEN days not even speaking because they could see that he was suffering so much. Unfortunately, after these seven days, they open their mouths and say hurtful things (“What did you DO that God is so angry with you?” “It must be you because God is righteous and wouldn’t punish someone who doesn’t deserve it!”) But isn’t that us sometimes too? We don’t have the right words. We stumble over how to express our love. But we show up anyway.  

How, though, is showing up as Christians any different from those who don’t profess Jesus as Savior? It’s all about intent. 1 John 3:16-18 says it best:  

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

So let’s all put our love into practice with actions and with truth.

God bless!

— Reflections appears regularly on the religion page. The column features a variety of local writers, coordinated through the Monroe Area Clergy Group. Kelly Jahn is pastor of the Juda Zion Community Church.