It was the middle of the night when someone swerved off the dirt road in front of our house and flattened our mailbox. It would have been better if the box and post were demolished, but they happened to be salvageable.
The post had broken below ground, so I stood it up and tamped the dirt back around it. A couple of leftover deck railing balusters nailed between the post and the landscape timbers around it made suitable braces. The contraption worked, but had a slight forward lean and twisted to the left, and looked like a busted post held up by two sticks.
“New post and mailbox” went on the to-do list that day. My wife, Sharon, and I discussed it at times, and we searched for what we wanted. Maybe it was time for a change – perhaps, a different style that would still fit with the dirt road location. After several tries to find something different, we gave up and decided on a mailbox identical to the one we had, and a post only slightly different from the old one.
“Put up post and mailbox” went on the to-do list that day. But, everyone knows you can’t rush out and just do it. You have to think and plan, consider the weather, decide to paint or stain the post, etc. etc. And, with a mailbox, you need to make sure you have the time to complete the installation without being interrupted (after all, the mail comes every day except Sunday, so you must have a place for it at delivery time.) So, the mailbox and post sat under the carport where I laid it when I brought it home from Lowes. After that, anytime I got in or out of the truck, I had to step around the post and mailbox.
I’m not sure how or why it all came together, but one Saturday morning I took down the old mailbox and began the installation. The post was standing and the mailbox labeled and attached when the mail carrier drove up. I asked her if the height suited her and met the regulations, and she said it was great. I tamped the post in and stained it, and the task was complete.
And, it only took me two years.
The problem was the old mailbox worked in its catawampus condition, so it never made it to the top of the to-do list. It was ugly, and the door might flop open if you didn’t close it just right, but it held mail just fine. As I said above, it would have been better if it had been a total loss. Then, I would have had to get a new one and install it quickly. But, we could get by with the old one and did, for two years.
Just getting by can become quite comfortable. The knowledge of something being out of kilter becomes blurred or filtered out of our vision. The thoughts of “I need to fix that” come farther apart and last shorter and shorter times, until the response becomes “Well, it’s not really that bad. I can get by with it.” And, we do just that – get by with it.
The physical things in our lives, such as catawampus mailboxes, should be addressed. But, it often happens the top of our to-do list should come on the spiritual side. “Just getting by” in that area could mean we’re outwardly following God’s Word, while inwardly our attitude conflicts with it, as Jesus explained in the Sermon on the Mount (“Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment…” Matthew 5:21-22.)
Or, as the Apostle Paul wrote in 1st Corinthians 13, our faith, knowledge and charity might be what people would consider good, but we are just getting by if we aren’t acting with love.
Jesus, in Matthew 23, berated the Scribes and Pharisees for just getting by with tithing of their herbs and spices, while leaving out such matters as mercy. I picture them proudly going to the Temple with their pouch containing an ounce of this herb and five grams of that spice, while stepping around the blind beggar on the steps outside.
As I said, just getting by can become quite comfortable, and in these busy times, sometimes it seems necessary. In some areas, such as mailboxes and posts, it may not be significant. But, if we discover we are just getting by (going through the motions, checking off a list, etc.) concerning our walk with God, it’s time to stop “stepping around the post and mailbox on the carport” and address it.
It’s possible that may be easy to do, but usually it won’t be comfortable and it won’t be instantaneous. It may take two days, or two years, or a lifetime of continuous work, but, thankfully we don’t have to do it alone (because we can’t).
“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Isaiah 41:10