The sun beamed down on the pavement with relentless audacity. I glanced at the sky. No clouds to be seen—which meant no shade. I checked to see if any of my friends had made the same mistake I had. Nope. They all wisely foresaw the danger of blistered heels and scorched toes.
It was the annual Labor Day picnic, and my friends and I were standing in line in front of the John Amos Field House, ready to partake of the thoughtfully prepared goods. It wasn’t until after I stepped out from under the cover of the carport that I realized my mistake: Ninety degrees in sweltering summer heat, and I didn’t wear shoes. I looked behind me to see if I could run back and grab them, but the line stretched on for what seemed like miles. My friends would have already eaten by the time I reached the buffet. To counteract the heat radiating from the pavement, I took up the act of bouncing up and down on the balls of my feet, then hopping from one foot to the other. Alas, it was all in vain. The unforgiving concrete was persistent in searing my unprotected feet.
This went on until I felt a gentle bumping at my toes. Something flat was squirming its way underneath them. I hastily looked down. There, staring up at me was the sweet face of a little 3-year-old girl. She was shoving her Disney-princess book under my feet to protect them from the hot stone. Such an unexpected turn of events nearly brought a tear to my eye. I gratefully thanked her and stood on the thin book. She looked satisfied and walked away. I felt the urge to give it back, but my friends told me it would be rude to return it right away after she so charitably gave it up. I was forced to stand upon a small child’s beloved book and scoot it forward every few minutes whenever the line moved on.
The act of a little girl giving up something so valuable to her for the benefit of another was touching. I started thinking about what I would have done when I was her age. Would I have done that? No, I honestly believe that 3-year-old me would not have even noticed the need, let alone acted upon it. Then I started wondering: Would I even do that now?
We all see the needs of other people whether it is the sniffling elderly man sitting beside you in need of a tissue or the dorm member with the missing shoe. The question is: Do you help? When we see someone who needs our help, we should actively try to assist them even if it isn’t necessarily comfortable for us. The little girl saw that I was in pain, and she selflessly made an attempt to help me, even to the possible detriment of her own possession. This toddler had a beautiful attitude toward serving. It is so easy for us to fall into a wrong mind-set of waiting for someone else to take the initiative and lend a hand. Human nature can come up with many excuses why you should not be the one to volunteer. Resist that selfish temptation. Step out and serve.
1 John 3:17 says, “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” Serving is showing godly love and compassion even if it sometimes means sacrifice on our part. It allows us to break out our comfort zone and build character. Our Father wants us to love each other as He loves us (John 15:12). God loves us deeply—so much so that He gave His Son for us. Sacrificing a little of your own time or comfort for someone else is really no great sacrifice in the long run. It’s a law of principle. Help others in their time of need, and when your day of trouble comes, you may look down to see the sweet face of someone helping you.