In Charles Schultz’s comic strip Peanuts, Linus and Charlie Brown are depicted as being all bundled up with caps and coats on a snowy, wintry day. They spot Snoopy shivering in the cold. Desiring to comfort him, they walk over to him.
Linus speaks first, “Be of good cheer, Snoopy.”
Charlie Brown adds, “Yes, be of good cheer.”
Then they turn and walk away. Snoopy is left still shivering. A large question mark appears over Snoopy’s puzzled expression as he watches Linus and Charlie Brown walk away.
Love is intended to carry us beyond words to deeds.
For many of us, it is easier to love from a distance rather than “up close and personal” because it is not as complicated or as involved.
Sometimes it is easier to see the forest rather than the trees.
Sometimes it is easier to write a check to a relief agency than to love or take care of our neighbor next door.
Sometimes it is easier to say a prayer for the person far away than to reach out physically to someone in the same predicament locally.
Real caring occurs on a one-on-one basis and must be more than simply giving it lip-service.
Our caring for one another might occur through a counseling appointment,
a hospital call,
a nursing home visit,
a twenty-minute meeting on the parking lot with a friend,
or a brief encounter in an aisle at the grocery store with someone who simply needs for us to listen.
It might occur by phoning an estranged acquaintance,
delivering cookies to a shut-in,
spending time with someone who is lonely,
helping an elderly neighbor with shopping or yard work,
or reading to someone who is blind or incapacitated.
When we do some love, we are to be there for each other.
There are many lives that we can touch and befriend. There are countless people who are hurting, unhappy, and unloved in our communities and they long to see love presented in deeds, not just in words. The work that we do on a one-on-one basis in sharing love has a great and immediate impact.
Charles “Chuck” Swindoll, in his book, Improving Your Serve illustrates this point. Swindoll writes: “Early one chilly morning an American soldier was making his way back to the barracks in London. As he turned the corner in his jeep, he spotted a little lad with his nose pressed to the window of a pastry shop. Inside, the cook was kneading dough for a fresh batch of pastries. The hungry boy stared in silence, watching every move. The soldier pulled his jeep to the curb, stopped, left his vehicle and walked quietly over to where the little fellow was standing. Through the steamed window he could see the mouthwatering morsels as they were being pulled from the oven, piping hot. The soldier’s heart went out to the nameless child as he stood beside him.
“Son, would you like some of those?”
The boy was startled.
“Oh, yes sir, I would,” said the lad.
The soldier stepped inside and bought a dozen, put them in a bag, and walked back to where the lad was standing in the foggy and damp cold of the London morning. He smiled, held out the bag, and simply said, “Here you are.” As he turned to walk away, he felt a tug on his coat. He looked down at the boy and heard the child ask quietly, “Mister, are you God?”
We are not told what the soldier’s reply was to the lad that day, but whatever his response, he embodied what Father Jerome Cummings had in mind when he wrote: “Love is shown in your deeds, not in your words.”