'10 Second Rule' urges Christians to help others instantly when prompted (column)
Published: Saturday, September 03, 2011, 5:06 AM
Fortunately, son and father soon left. Relieved, the annoyed guy soon left, too, only to find them near his car. He heard the voice again. So he reluctantly emptied his wallet and wished them a blessed day, leaving them “stunned and thankful.”
This story of a God who bugs you into doing something really inconvenient is from a reader of claredegraaf.com, whose author urges you to do the inconvenient thing within 10 seconds. Otherwise you may talk yourself out of it like this guy almost did.
Inconvenience hinders us
It’s called “The 10 Second Rule,” a new book by Clare De Graaf available on the website, on Amazon and soon at local bookstores. De Graaf, of Grand Rapids, is a former business owner whose business now is mentoring men and doing inconvenient things for God. The slim tome’s subtitle sums up the rule neatly: “Just do the next thing you’re reasonably certain Jesus wants you to do.”
It’s easy to over-think things when you’re suddenly presented with a person in need. I did that recently when I walked right by a woman with car trouble in a parking lot. She was on her cellphone, so I rationalized help was on its way. It wasn’t until another guy said, “Does she need a jump?” that I listened to the inner voice crying, “Stop and help, you dope!”
Caution is in order, but if you have a reasonably sure feeling in your gut, trust it, De Graaf says.
“We tend to overlook those little nudges, because we’re waiting for the big signs (from God),” De Graaf says. “The truth is, it’s just inconvenient to follow Jesus. We subconsciously wait for the big sign, and hope God doesn’t give it.”
That way leads to what he calls “the beige plan”: faithful church attender, Sunday school teacher, box seats in heaven. Comfortable, but not what Jesus had in mind when he said, “Take up (your) cross and follow me.”
Be a hearer and a doer
Thus the 10-second rule. You say you love Jesus? OK then. When you sense his voice, do what he says.
Pretty simple. In fact, De Graaf admits you don’t need to buy his book to do it.
“The point wasn’t to sell books. The point was to get people to obey Jesus.”
Simple sometimes sings. It’s gotten endorsements from Bill Hybels, Ed Dobson and Dick DeVos, plus orders from Family Christian Stores and a home-school curriculum. Not bad for a self-published work 14 publishers turned down. He’ll sign copies at 7:30 p.m. next Friday at Baker Book House.
But simple doesn’t mean easy. For De Graaf, the 10-second rule means taking risks to do the stuff Jesus says to do for the hungry, thirsty and sick. Don’t just agree with it; do it.
Take the Good Samaritan who came upon a guy who had been robbed and beaten. He bandaged his wounds, put him on his donkey and took him to an inn. Put him on his donkey! Why, that’s like picking up a hitchhiker today. Isn’t that dangerous?
De Graaf once picked up a hitchhiker and ended up hearing his life story over coffee. The guy said, “You made my day, because I wasn’t sure God or anybody else cared about me at all.”
Some would call this foolish. I no longer pick up hitchhikers, unwilling to take an admittedly small risk. De Graaf does, seeing the risk as part of his obedience.
Then, there are panhandlers who ask for bus fare or meal money. What if Jesus tells you to shell out, then they spend it on booze?
De Graaf doesn’t give out cash, but he does take people to lunch. His book cites a man who took a woman shopping after she knocked on his car window asking for help, then he drove her home.
Clearly this kind of thing could end badly, in a weird place with a needy or threatening person. De Graaf says it’s important to set boundaries and make “pre-decisions” about what you’re willing to do when suddenly confronted with need.
But face it, he says, “It’s going to happen. You’re going to get ripped off. If you’re going to run away from everyone because this could get messy, you’re never going to invest in anyone.”
As far as that goes, investing isn’t always about money. A lot of people would like to buy someone groceries but can barely afford it themselves. How about visiting someone who is lonely, or sending a thank-you note? That’s obeying a voice of caring, too.
I would like to hear your stories about obeying God’s voice, or your conscience if you will, to spontaneously help someone else. I have a feeling it happens far more than we know.