As often as we would like, things sometimes do not go our way. Striving and stressing about a work deadline, or an assignment, or the to-do lists that we create for ourselves can seem overwhelming. The responsibility we have that we often see as a burden, however, can be a blessing in disguise. But it takes a long time to realise a blessing when we see one.
I recently shared about my experiences living in India at a local conference not too far from my home here in Brisbane. As I listened to some of the speakers, it dawned on me that each person had come from a different background, but someone or other had invested into their lives and seen the potential they had to succeed, even before they could realise it themselves.
Listening to Peter King, the chairman of World Vision Australia and Opportunity International, was extremely fascinating. He described his upbringing of living in the villages of South Africa and coming from a broken family, later landing a job in engineering at a young age when a foreman happened to take a chance on him.
So too, were the beginnings of Martin Upton, a business graduate who began a chain of health clubs with a difference, and Phil Cave, a serial investor who turned his passion into a calling. Kara Martin’s idea to tap into the psychological abilities of people with a burdened past, along with Michael Oon’s focus on getting into the outdoors and uplifting others from family issues and breakdowns was quite inspiring.
Yet despite our obvious burdens and backgrounds, each one of us has the ability to “finish well”. In a sense, it doesn’t matter what sort of beginning you’ve had, as long as you have the ability to overcome your own obstacles and end well—to quote one of my favourite music artists.
However, I’ve found that even on a “good” day, something out of the ordinary just comes up at the last second and can change the whole outlook of a certain day, in an instant.
I was in Christchurch a few days ago, and a friend and I decided to go to dinner. It was already quite cold outside, so we went to a nearby restaurant to grab something to eat. However, for some odd reason, the card machine that day wasn’t working at the restaurant, and neither of us had enough cash on hand to cover our meal.
Interestingly, the cook in the back of the restaurant heard about our dilemma and offered to drive us to the nearby location down the road where we could withdraw enough cash. Surprised at her hospitality, we bundled into her nearby car and drove off down the road.
The lady driving us began to explain that they ran the restaurant as a family business and were originally from Thailand, having spent some time in Australia before moving to Christchurch. She reasoned that helping us out was nothing major, and she just wanted us to have some food for the night. The lady at the counter had even mentioned that we could come back the next day to pay for our meal if we didn’t have enough cash on hand. Thankfully, my friend managed to get enough cash out to pay for the meal, and we were able to make it back to the house without any other unforeseen mishaps.
Going the extra mile
However, that seemingly insignificant dilemma caused me to ponder over the next few days of other circumstances and situations in which I have found myself in a conundrum, only to have a stranger offer to lend a helping hand. There have been times while I was in India when someone offered me a lift at the last second to a destination, or in Dubai, when a taxi driver shouted me lunch at his favourite restaurant, or in the States, when my new neighbours helped my parents and siblings move into an apartment when I was occupied at work.
It reminds me of the story of the Good Samaritan—a foreigner who had no business nor incentive helping out a stranger who had been wounded and left for dead on a dangerous mountain road yet, helped anyway. Not only so, but he managed to give him first-aid, provide him transport to the closest inn, and paid for his expenses during his stay. That sort of unselfishness is rare these days—but when it does happen, it goes to show that doing that “little bit extra” certainly goes a long way.
So what chance will you take to help out a stranger?
It might not be the biggest priority on your list, or the thing that you wish you could get the most out of but, doing something for someone else without the expectation of anything in return, puts the extra in extraordinary.
Joseph Kolapudi is a TCK born in Australia to Indian parents, and returned from California where he was studying theology at Fuller; currently, he is working with a missions agency, continuing his love of writing by contributing to PSI.
Joseph Kolapudi's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/joseph-kolapudi.html