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19 May 2021
Who can you count on these days?
Words Mal Davies
Reliability isn’t as reliable as it used to be. Well, that’s how it appears to me anyway. The notion of something being reliable seems to have altered in recent years.
What do you buy now that lasts? Growing up, I think we used the same potato peeler for about a decade. These days, as soon as you get to a potato that’s too lumpy or just too hard, the peeler seems to say: “Nuh, not happening, buddy,” and it just breaks. It decides that it’s all just too hard and quits.
It used to be that if you bought a car, you not only drove that car for 15 years but then you passed it on to a child or grandchild and it became their first car. These days, you drive a car for five years and then you get tired of paying for constant repairs and maintenance and you just trade it in for a new car. Which you’ll replace in five years.
My wife and I were holidaying in Europe once and visited a 15th-century cathedral in a country town. The building was massive and solid and imposing and beautiful. After looking around and taking a few photos we walked out and, as we did so, I said to my wife, “How many buildings built these days will still be standing in 500 years?” Answer: not many, I’m guessing.
Even people seem to have downgraded the priority of reliability. If you invite someone to a party and they RSVP with an acceptance, does that mean they’ll show up? No, not these days. It depends if a better offer comes along or if they simply forget (no one seems to keep diaries these days) or if they’re feeling a little bit run down after walking the dog and might just stay home and watch a movie on Netflix while they recover physically and emotionally.
It raises the question: who or what can you rely on these days? When it comes to the crunch, when the rubber hits the road, when you get to the pointy end of the stick, who comes through for you without fail?
I hope you have some people you can rely on and that you yourself are someone others can rely on. Reliability is – or should be – still a priority when it comes to our dealings with others.
I recall once – when serving as an officer [pastor] at a Salvation Army church in a country town – hearing about a young family that was doing life tough. Both parents were unemployed and they had two young children. They were good people but life had been hard for them. The man’s elderly mother spoke to me and asked if I could possibly help them out at all.
I put together some boxes of food, added a voucher for fuel for their car and purchased some toys for their kids. After driving to their house, I knocked on the door and waited. The door opened and both parents were standing there. I smiled and said, “I’ve brought you a few goodies, I hope you don’t mind.”
Well, they burst into tears. They invited me in and were so thrilled to see me. They said that they were so desperate that they’d just been talking about ringing the Salvos when they heard a knock at the front door … and I was there! The husband said, “I knew we could rely on the Salvos, that’s why I was going to call, but you’ve beat me to it!”
The Salvation Army seeks to be a reliable source of help, but we can only do what we do in partnership with you. For well over a century, the Australian public has supported the Salvos with generous donations and by volunteering, because they recognise that the Salvos are genuine and can be relied on.
We do what we do not only for you but with you. You might say, “Thank God for the Salvos”, but we say, “Thank God for you!”
Major Mal Davies is an Australian Salvation Army officer (pastor) serving as Editor-in- Chief for the Salvos in the United Kingdom.