The Rescuers

Most of us secretly (or maybe not so secretly) would like for someone to come and rescue us when we are stuck. I remember when I was in my very early twenties, about to graduate college, and my car broke down about three hours from home one night when I was driving from Florida to North Carolina for a holiday weekend.

This being well before the age of cell phones, I had to wait by the side of the road for the state trooper to arrive, and he arranged for the car towed to the repair shop and drove me and my cat to a nearby all-night coffee and donuts tent some local citizens had set up for truckers (because it was night and the car repair place was closed). Some folks at the coffee stand let me use their phone to call my parents to let them know where I was and offered to let me spend the night on a cot in the back room.

I called my dad and told him what was going on. He said, OK, see you tomorrow when you get here.

And I was furious. I wanted him to come and get me. I wanted him to drive three hours down I-95 to South Carolina and help me handle this situation and take me home. He just said, see you tomorrow.

Now if this were an Anne Lamott story, I would be telling you how I'd prayed "Help me, help me, help me" to God when the car broke down and how I'd recognized the trooper and those nice people at the coffee stand as those God had sent to help me in answer to my prayer. I like to think, though, that when Anne Lamott was 22 she might have done the same thing as I did - ignore the help I did get and be mad about my dad not coming to rescue me.

We want someone to come and get us when we are stuck, someone else to handle the details, someone else to fix and arrange and smooth over, someone else to come up with the ideas when if we're fresh out of ideas, which is often what stuck means. And if things don't go right, we can blame them, too. (During the car breakdown episode, my cat got loose and ran away. I was mad at my dad about that, too.)

And sometimes - many times - we need someone to help us, absolutely. I needed that state trooper and those nice people at the coffee stand. They were my community that rallied around me in my trouble. Really, this was about community coming together - even a temporary community - to support someone who was alone and in trouble. I was treated as if I were a guest, not a helpless lump who couldn't think for herself, who couldn't deal with a setback, a bump in the road, adversity.

Still, there are times when I just want someone to come along and fix it. Like that guy on Saturday Night Live, the "financial expert" Oscar Rodgers, who just wants somebody to "FIX IT! FIX IT! FIX!!! IT!!! These people need to FIX IT - when I wake up tomorrow morning, I want IT to be FIXED!"

Most of us certainly feel that way about many things - we want not just the economy but the oil gusher to be fixed by somebody. We want Haiti to be fixed. We want someone to just fix the problem of terrorism. But we also often want someone to fix us, too. To fix our personal problems - to fix our addictions, our children, our loneliness; to get us jobs, to rescue us when the door is shut in our face again. When we are frustrated and defeated and hopeless, we just want someone to just fix it.

Well, Jesus saves, but also we have to work out our own salvation in fear and trembling. Which is fabulously liberating, actually. We have it in us, ourselves, to be creative, to know what we want, to have vision about how to get there, to partner with others in all sorts of communities temporary and long-term, to partner with God in creative thought and vision and activity and to become unstuck not by being rescued, but by the power of being fully alive ourselves. The human fully alive - creative, hopeful, adventurous, trusting in God and partnering with neighbor: such is the glory of God.