At the Pilgrimage Retreat last week, Debbie Humphries, a
Quaker speaker, presented her interpretation of Bible stories. My favorite was
the Good Samaritan. Traditionally, this story induces more guilt than polishing
off half a box of chocolates and hiding the wrappers. Do many days go by when
we don’t see one or more people figuratively in the ditch? How can we rescue
Debbie’s interpretation is that the story’s purpose is not
to make us feel we must pick up everybody from the ditch— which is, of course,
impossible. The purpose of the story is to move us to pity for the less
fortunate—and to recognize those whom God has called us to help.
Twenty years ago I was wrestling with a large family, a full
time job, and responsible church callings. The sound of the phone ringing made
me want to lock myself in the bathroom and wait until people quit asking me to
do things–or the millennium—whichever came first.
I walked around singing the first line of the Michael McLean
song, “I Can’t Do Everything.” Nobody listened. Spouses, kids, employers, and
church leaders will allow—even expect a person to give until the fuel tank runs
dry—and the demands don’t stop then. Not until a person takes charge of her or
his own life.
Doctrine & Covenants 10:4 tells us not to run faster nor
labor more than our strength allows. Debbie’s interpretation of the Good
Samaritan frees me to set my own priorities and liberates me from guilt over my
human limitations of time and energy.