It was the middle of the night when some scoundrel swerved off the dirt road and flattened our mailbox. It would have been better if all had been demolished, but it happened to be salvageable. I stood it up and tamped the dirt back around it. A couple of pieces of 2×2 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 thought maybe it was time for a change – perhaps, a different style. 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 mailbox” went on the to-do list that day. But everyone knows you can’t rush out and just do it. You must 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 why, 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 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. It was ugly, and the door might flop open if you didn’t close it just right, but it held mail just fine. The alert flag was broken off so there was no way to let the mail carrier know we had mail to go. 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 fixed. 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 saying we obey the commandment to not murder anyone. But, as Jesus would respond “That’s good, but have you been angry with your brother or insulted your sister? If you have, don’t speak too quickly of your obedience.” (see Matthew 5:21-22)
Or, as the Apostle Paul wrote in 1st Corinthians 13, our faith, knowledge and charity might appear to be commendable, 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 neglecting more important matters like mercy. I picture them proudly going to the Temple with their pouch containing an ounce of mint and five grams of cumin, while stepping around the blind beggar on the steps outside. “Get out of my way! I have something important to do!”
As I said, just getting by can become quite comfortable. In some areas, such as mailboxes, it may not be significant. But, if we discover we are just getting by 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