You may have heard this story.
There once was a man whose home was caught in a flood. As the waters rose, he climbed up onto the roof of his house and began to pray to God to be saved from the flood. Soon one of his neighbors arrived with a boat, but the man refused his aid. “The Lord will save me,” was his reply. Shortly after, the National Guard passed by in a pontoon, but still he refused their help. “The Lord will save me,” he told them. Finally, a rescue helicopter hovered over his house as the water continued to rise, but once again the man turned them away. “The Lord will save me.”
As the floodwater began to rise over the rooftop, the man climbed up the chimney. Balancing precariously on top, he asked God, “Lord, why have you forsaken me?”
And God replied, “I sent two boats and a helicopter, what more do you want?”
To me, this story does much more than point out how we trap ourselves by only accepting blessings if they come presented in the way we think they should. It also speaks to how we, as followers of our own spiritual prompting, need to disconnect from the results and accept the outcome, whatever it may be.
One day, God taught me a lesson by placing me in the role of one of the “rescuers.”
I had recently ordered a pair of running shoes from Amazon and was sent two pairs by mistake. When I brought it to their attention, they thanked me, but advised me to just keep the extra pair. Not long after this I was driving my car and saw a man walking down the sidewalk barefoot. I had been intending to drop the shoes off at a donation center that week, so they were still in the car with me. Then, as clear as day, I heard my inner prompt: Give that man the extra pair of shoes. They will fit him.
It took me some maneuvering to turn my car around and by then I had lost sight of the barefoot man. He must have used a shortcut through a parking lot and broken fence before disappearing. Not ready to give up, I continued to make slow circles of the block trying to find him. Finally, on my last pass, I saw a small house with an open front door and surmised that, as fast as he had disappeared, this was probably his residence. I checked in with my inner voice and it was confirmed: That’s his house.
Now I won’t pretend I didn’t have a moment of fear about approaching a stranger by myself at his home, but I also know that no permanent damage has ever occurred by following my inner voice in the past.
So I pulled into the driveway and no sooner had put the car in park when the man emerged loudly proclaiming, “You can’t park here!” I responded by telling him that I had seen him walking barefoot and wanted to give him a pair of new shoes.
He looked confused as I tried to offer him the shoes and he said, “Those aren’t mine.” And he repeated “You can’t park here!”
I said, “I know they aren’t yours, but I am giving them to you.” To which he replied, “I don’t want them!” Then he promptly turned his back to me and returned inside his house.
“No problem, have a great day!” I called out cheerily and drove away, all the while talking to God in my head. Now why would you have me chase that man down just to have him say, “No?”
To which my inner voice responded: Sometimes you’re the second boat!
Let’s face it, sometimes your job is simply to follow the prompts of your guiding spirit. It isn’t about you imposing your desire to be helpful upon another so that he allows you to rescue him. It may be just to provide context for some greater meaning that will become clear at a later time from when the offer was made. Remember, you are part of God’s bigger plan and should never feel badly because the results didn’t go according to your plan. Be assured, it always goes exactly according to His.
So the next time you follow your inner voice to offer assistance only to be rejected, feel great in the knowledge that you did your job. You were obedient when prompted by your guiding spirit and the results were never yours to control or even to understand.