Why Do I Bother?
Telephone call to customer service: "Hello. In order to access your account, please enter your 10-digit phone number ... please confirm that the first four letters of your address are ... Thank you. We will connect you with an agent ... Hello, thank you for calling. My name is ... I need to confirm your account, can you give me your phone number? And your full address? And the last four of your social?"
Why did I bother giving the computer any information if I have to provide the same information to the agent?
Computer form: Name, phone number, email, which model car would you like to test drive. What day and time would you like to schedule the test drive? Submit form. Phone rings. "Hi, I'm calling from ... dealership. I have a message that you'd like to schedule a test drive. What model did you want to test? Let me see if we have one in inventory. (Me: the website says you do.) It looks like we have one. What time did you want to come in for the test drive? (Me: 10 am on Monday, just like I entered on the computer form.)." Follow up email: you're scheduled for 10 am on Monday, ask for ... 10 am Monday, "Hi, I have a 10 am appointment with ..." "Hi, what car did you want to look at? Oh, I'm not sure if we have one of those on the lot." (If they did, they never let me see it, I got to test drive last year’s model.) And then the automatic thank you message is sent to my husband's email.
Why did I bother filling out the computer form? It's like the information I provided didn't exist for them.
Sunday's Gospel reading was from Chapter 13 of Matthew. It was the Parable of the Sower, who scattered seed on the path, rocky places, among the thorns, and on good soil.
Several other parables follow it: the Parable of the Weeds, the Parables of the Mustard Seed and the Yeast, the Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl, the Parable of the Net.
In the midst of these parables, the disciples ask why he speaks in parables. The answer is to fulfill prophecy: that people will not hear or see what is happening around them, but that the blessed will hear and see everything. And the disciples are among the blessed.
Chapter 14 features the miracles of the feeding of the five thousand (men, not counting the women and children), and walking on water, though Peter doubts his eyes and starts to sink.
Chapter 15 brings us another parable and scrutiny by the Pharisees. Peter (always Peter!) says, "Explain the parable to us."
Which results in one of Jesus' greatest responses: "Are you still so dull?"
Peter, why do I bother telling you anything, you just don't get it!
There are plenty of "why do I bother" moments in the Bible. The Old Testament is full of them.
Read the story of Moses and the Exodus. I picture a human-looking God sitting in heaven, head in hand, sighing, “Why do I bother?”
“They don’t listen to me.”
“We’re hungry. We’re tired of manna.”
While at the edge of the Red Sea, the Israelites were crying about being brought to the desert to die. Moses tells them to trust God. God responds by says, "Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on." MOVE IT! Why did I bother rescuing you? You still just complain. You don't get it. You don't listen. You don't understand.
But the song of Moses following their escape from the Egyptian troops answers the question of why God bothers: "In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength, you will guide them to your holy dwelling."
God bothers because of unfailing love and the promise of the holy dwelling. Whether we listen or not. Whether we understand or not.
- Ann Iona Warner