Waiting Well Addendum

‘You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh ; rather, serve one another humbly in love.’ Galatians 5:13

‘And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.’ Hebrews 10:24,25

In the shower, I was shown that my Waiting Well blog was not a finished story. By the way someone needs to invent a waterproof whiteboard so I can take notes in there and if that is a thing please let me know. Anyway, I forgot a couple of important ways that I know have helped me in the waiting and that I think are imperative for healing. In my initial blog I suggested these ways to wait well; Remember that our life is not our own, Seek Him, Be Real & Receive. Going through the process of waiting does not necessitate being idle. We need to participate in the waiting. The enemy’s plan is to steal, kill and destroy,  and this directive does not change. Waiting around for the miracle or change can cause us to become isolated. Often isolation is the devil’s vehicle to drive the destruction he seeks.

As the writer of Hebrews says above, spur one another on, do not give up meeting together, encourage one another. This is a necessary step to protect from being isolated. Who are your people? If you don’t have people, what are you doing to create that community to grow together with others and protect from seclusion. How are you serving one another in love? Or is it just all about you?

Community. The Lord tells us in Psalm 23 that He is our Shepherd and we lack for nothing. He is the Shepherd, we are the sheep. The thing about sheep is sometimes they aren’t very smart. We need to stick together so that we aren’t scooped up by predators who are carrying out the enemy’s plans. Sometimes we do have desert seasons in order to draw closer to God but in these seek others out. I know when we moved here 6 years ago, it was one of the most difficult seasons in my life. We moved away from a daughter who had barely graduated and was getting established and further away from our other daughter, the only people I really knew were my husband’s family and friends who all had lives. In this though we didn’t stop looking to create community and I held tight for a season to the ones we left. God stepped into our looking and gave us a greater community than we could have ever imagined through our church family. This has impacted every area of our life greatly and made our world larger. In community we can better deal with the things that waiting brings up in our character. Together we can fulfill the commission to tell others about Jesus.team-386673_640 Renew your mind with these truths;

‘Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.’Acts 2:46,47

‘Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.’ 1 Peter 3:8

‘How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!’ Psalm 133:1

Serve. We forget about others in our pain. Isolation keeps our pain locked in. I once heard someone say, give to others the very thing you may be missing. If you are in need of nurturing, offer that to someone else. If you need an ear to hear you, listen to someone else. In giving you will receive. Do not make that your motive but it is a by-product of giving of yourself. I understand there are seasons, especially in loss where we need to be served but even in reaching out then, God meets us with healing. 2 weeks after my Mom took her life, I had to speak at a women’s retreat. God only gave me strength for that but I look back on that time and also see it served to create a place of great healing in me. Serving moves us from navel gazing to an outward focus. Serving is how God works through us as His hands and feet to meet the needs of His people. We are most like Him when we give of ourselves. Roll up your sleeves and look around you and see the countless needs. hand-1331323_640Renew your minds with these truths;

‘But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.’  1 Samuel 12:24

‘For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’   Mark 10:45

‘In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ Acts 20:35

Now go friends, Wait Well. Serve. Be with Others. See what He will do. Live amazed.

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Waiting Well

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Psalm 27:14

Stay with God! Take heart. Don’t quit. I’ll say it again: Stay with God. MSG

 Wait patiently for the LORD . Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD. NLT

 Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. NIV

Did you think the title Waiting Well is an impossible feat? I heard a quote about financial planning that said usually you are coming out of a crisis, in the middle of one,  or one is on its way. This may be a good reference when dealing with money but if it refers to waiting, it doesn’t bring much hope. Although the definition of crisis can mean a time of intense difficulty, trouble or danger, it can also be a turning point when an important change takes place.
We all have our own definition or experience of crisis depending on our life filters. We all have different ways of responding. My heart is to wait well through things but often my faith in attempting that is not pretty. Often it results in me taking things into my own hands and messing with the outcome God may have wanted, or I may become suspicious, resentful or full of doubt toward the situation and sometimes even God.

Trying to help things along on my own often reminds me of the story of Abraham and Sarah, once Abram and Sarai. I invite you to read this fascinating story beginning in Genesis 15. In short, God promised Abraham in his old age, offspring as many as the stars. Sarah did not believe after all this time that the God who had kept her from having children would fulfill this promise through her. Now before we persecute Sarai too much in her decision, know that it was common practice in that day and culture to give a female servant to her husband to produce an heir. Often women were shamed when they were unable to conceive. Imagine for a moment how that felt to her, now imagine trying to wait well in that situation. Notice Abram didn’t seem to protest too much about her suggestion. (Genesis 16:1-4)

This created a series of problems from Sarai feeling rejected, her barrenness highlighted even more as the servant conceived,  to blame towards Abram and the maidservant running away. These are all seemingly difficult situations that arose from independence from God’s plans. But God…

He not only brought restoration to these relationships but He gave Abram and Sarai their promised son, through their 100 and 90 year old bodies, and He gave them new names. The meaning of a new name in that culture was that God was calling them to submit to Him and His promises, it wasn’t to shame them for their mistakes but to create more intimacy with them.

Do you know our God this way? Have you experienced His redemption in the midst of your waiting even in the form of the strength to keep standing? I have a feeling like the financial saying about crisis above, that waiting is more a normal in our walk with Him, than the manifestation of answers or miracles or removing of circumstances. I think He trusts us more than we trust ourselves.

Marlo Schalesky said, “Waiting is not a punishment from God, it is a tool in His Hands to make and mold us into who we are meant to be.” We are always looking for the ‘there’ aren’t we? Once we get _____ or do ______ or accomplish ______ we will be happy or successful or have ‘arrived’. It is an elusive chase though. Marlo also said, “There is no ‘there’ here in this life. When God brings us to a place, He doesn’t want that to be the answer. He wants Himself to be. True fulfillment comes in God.”

In the Mercy Me song, Even If, they sing this sentiment. ‘I know you’re able and I know you can, Save through the fire with your mighty hand. But Even If you don’t My hope is You alone.’ Can you sing that? Is your heart convinced that there is purpose in this process? Or are you in a place of discouragement? Of not being able to believe for that?

What do we do in the meantime, in the wait? How can we wait well?

Remember that our life is not our own. I know this statement is a newsflash to many in this self-centred, what about me world? I can relate and I still sometimes struggle with this. But it really is Not about us. Jesus died, buying our freedom at a price, so that we could be reconciled to God and in this bring glory to Him by living for Him. Our lives are because of Him and in Him. Renew your mind with these truths;

‘LORD, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps.‘Jeremiah 10:23
‘Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.’ 1
Corinthians 6:19,20

Seek Him. Yes Him, not always His hand. I once heard it said that He is more concerned with our character than our circumstances, but He uses our circumstances to make us more like Him. His heart is for relationship, it is why He created us and He promises that we will find Him if we look. Renew your mind with these truths;

‘You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart’ Jeremiah 29:13

‘Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.’ Psalm 105:4

‘But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.’ Matthew 6:33

Be Real. He knows you better than anyone else. Go to Him with all of your emotions, honesty, discouragement, praise, frustration, anger, sadness, confusion, questions. It is in this place of honesty and surrendering all of this along with your opinions, ideas or thoughts that He will come and meet you and minister to your heart. You know when He says to love Him with All of you heart, ya He meant that. Renew your mind with these truths;

‘If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.’ 1 John 1:8-10

Receive. Take in the love He wants to give you. Don’t let it bounce off of the filters of your wounds or shame. Ask Him to help you receive all that He has given you. And this is everything, by the way. When you sit with Him, be expectant that He will meet your heart. We can’t buy, earn or deserve His mercy love and forgiveness, we just need to receive these free gifts. Not because we are good, but because He is!  Renew your mind with these truths;

‘Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.’ Matthew 7:7
‘Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.’ Hebrews 4:16

 

Pray. Submit. Surrender. Trust. Hope. Persevere. Choose. Pray. He’s Got You.

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All we need is…

loveapple-570965_6401Corinthians 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

LOVE! There is nothing more telling to me that God’s ways and thoughts are higher than mine than seeing what He says about love, and watching how we all try to execute this. Our broken brand of this mission is tainted with our wounds, disappointments, rejections, shame, guilt, insecurities and lack. I failed in at least half of these directives about love just today and I haven’t even left my house yet.

But God…

He is love. He is the model of love. If we know Him, we are a demonstration of what His love did for us. He sent His only Son to die for us. Who does that? GOD did! And when we do choose Him, He gives us a new nature, one that is powered by the Holy Spirit to execute the kind of love that He showed us. Our mission is grand, to love the Lord with all of us and to love our neighbour as ourself, but it is not impossible with Him, despite our brokenness.

It keeps no record of wrongs…this is the portion that jumped out at me as I read this familiar love chapter from Corinthians today.  Ironically, I am co-leading a women’s bible study about the book Uninvited by Lysa Terkeurst and it is all about rejection. Rejection hijacks our normal emotions and we absolutely keep a record of wrongs within all of the jabs of rejection that we have experienced if we don’t allow God to heal these wounds.

When our son was smaller he would often scrape his knees when he was playing. No sooner did one wound start healing and scabbing over, when another one would happen in the same place. The scabs showed the healings were happening but were insignificant as another owie ripped the scab off and irritated the sore. We had to watch that they didn’t get infected.

This is often what happens with unhealed rejection in our lives. Escalated emotions during an incident of rejection is a good indicator of past unhealed hurt. An antidote for this is acceptance. As Lysa Terkeurst says,”Acceptance is like an antibiotic that prevents past rejections from turning into present day infections. The need for belonging runs deep.” She also says that, “No amount of outside achievement fixes inside hurts. Those hurts have to be soothed by replacing the lies with truth.”

Rejection changes what you believe about yourself and so if you don’t inject God’s truth in those places, it can be a festering wound waiting for the next scraping. Belonging comes from God. His love is like a balm to the soul. His truth goes deep to our roots.

The word tells us in Colossians 3:14. “But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.” Love is something we do, not something we feel. It is a choice. Love is something God does for us, He brings fullness to our empty places. Lysa says,” I can choose to bring my emptiness or God’s fullness into any situation I face. It saves us from begging for scraps of love.”

Love in its fullness is…heart-598048_640

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:18, 19

“Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.” Proverbs 10:12

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8

“Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:10

“Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” 1 John 4:20

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. Psalm 103:8

I think you get the idea. In the New International version of the bible, love is mentioned 551 times. I think God was trying to tell us something significant about putting on who He is. As you know from the start of this post, walking in love is not an easy thing to do but we are called to do it. We need to practice walking in love. It not only is an antidote for rejection but for all of the hurts that may be contained in our hearts. He is not finished with us yet and the more we act like Him by being loving, the more we resemble His heart to others that don’t know Him yet.

How does your love reflect God’s heart? What parts of your heart do you need Him to bring healing and correction with truth? How are you bringing God’s fullness to situations? How have your hurts broken the mission of leading others to know Him? What will you do to seek the healing God longs to give you?

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Truth Seeking

“I love those who love me and those who seek me find me.” Proverbs 8:17

One of my very favourite things to do that God has given me much opportunity for lately is sitting with young women and being able to encourage them in their walk with God and life. Some might say mentoring, I say listening. Some might say it is the stage in my life where I have a great desire to bring wisdom to them from what I have learned, I say maybe it is because I miss my daughters and being able to speak things into their lives face-to-face. Regardless, it is where God has me and I love it. It is not only listening to them but learning. God is raising up such incredible young people in this time. I am continually fascinated by how they think and the dreams God has instilled in their hearts and their desire for truth. This generation seeks authenticity. They inspire me more than they will ever know.

Recently one young lovely woman and I were talking about the One Word concept that I spoke of in my last blog. She had written me a note after reading my blog telling me how she had been inspired to try this and was so excited to share how God had so obviously confirmed it for her over and over. I am excited to watch it continue to play out in her life. We talked about guilt and shame and she wisely said that New Years resolutions are fueled by guilt and that is probably the reason they fail. In doing the One Word it brings simplicity and focus to what God has for us instead of 20 different new things to try. It is attained by seeking God and not out of guilt. The enemy doesn’t have to look far at the beginning of each year to try and get people discouraged. If guilt was their motivation for starting something, that doesn’t give much fuel to follow through on a resolution.

In fact there is a date people have been throwing around which is deemed ‘Blue Monday’, usually the third Monday in January depending on what you read. It is reportedly the most depressing day of the year. Do you know how this began? It was a calculation by a travel company to try and determine when their traffic would increase. The concept has only been around for 12 years but thanks for social media, it is like it is written in stone. The variables used in the formula included things such as weather conditions, debt level, time since Christmas and lo and behold time since failing New Year’s resolutions.

Are these factors somewhat valid for feeling a little blue at this time of year? Perhaps. Is it a little more difficult, especially in the northern hemisphere where this term is aimed at, to stay upbeat in the longer nights and freezing cold days? Yes. Do we dream of warm faraway vacations to break the monotony, I know I do. But it seems when there is an expectation of something we go toward that. As Pastor Craig Groeschel said,”Our lives move in the direction of our strongest thoughts.”

What if we renamed it Celebration Monday? See where your thoughts go between thinking of Celebration or Blue? God has been showing me that just because the world says things are a certain way, it does not mean it is gospel truth. This same young woman I mentioned above rebels against the status quo. I say rebel, not with a negative connotation but one that inspires others to dig deeper and not take so many things at face value. Our society has created an instant gratification mentality and that means wanting answers now and fast. In this, we miss the deeper things. We also miss the truth sometimes.

Pastor Craig preached about how often people reject God but it is not the true God, it is a distorted view of Him. I think our culture is so inundated with information that it is prime territory for the enemy to come in and just twist things ever so slightly to become something of discouragement rather than encouragment. Instant gratification creates a thirst that drives us to take endless sips of information cocktails. In that we have become drunk on  half-truths, lies and deceptions. We believe them for truth when they have just enough truth to entice us.

Pause.

The next time you hear or read something, pause and ask questions, read what Scripture says about the idea you have encountered. Bookmark it if you don’t have time right at the moment. If it’s truth God wants you to hear, you don’t need to rush through it. We also do not need to swallow every cocktail we are given. I hope you do that with my words. They are just mine, I pray and seek God and ask what to write but I may not always get it right.

1 John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

Ephesians 6:16, “In addition to all of this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”

John 8:32, “Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

1 John 2:21, “I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth.”

1 Corinthians 13:6, “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.”

Galatians 5:7, “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?”

Where are you drinking from? Are your thoughts and information based on truth? There is only one place that will truly fulfill your thirst and He is the Truth and He will set you free. His love story for you is written in the Bible. Ask Him to show you His truth and seek it until you find Him. He promises you will.

Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

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Lessons from 2016

2016

Happy New Year! As Queen would sing and some would say, “Another One Bites the Dust”. A few people who have experienced hardships in 2016 are not sad to see the year go and to move into a fresh space of potential hope, healing and new things. It is a time to reflect, a time to celebrate and a time to anticipate as we move into another year. For those that had a year of difficulty, I saw this picture above and I liked the challenge of it to not write the year off or remember only the negative things.

So as I sent out a plethora of notes to people blessing their year to come, I asked what did you learn from this year. It was all fine and dandy until one of my friends asked it back to me. 2016 was a very full year for me and not lacking in challenges or loss and I wasn’t as excited for the year to be over as I was for a refreshing start in 2017. She did catch me though with my own question as I hadn’t sat with it before I encouraged others to examine their perspectives.

Most of my life I have strived or performed for love out of a lack of identity and worth. God brought a new depth to who I am in Christ in 2016 and so as my surrender to those truths happened, my striving has lessened. I realized that in this process His power always trumps my willpower and He can pull things out of my character that no amount of striving would accomplish. God doesn’t need my help, imagine that!

And so this leads to One Word. For the past few years, my husband, son and I have sought God’s direction for a key word that He wants to do in and through us in the next year. It really helps you to focus in a particular area of character, keeping our eyes on Jesus and simplifying life. Face it, who doesn’t need to do that. It is said that 50% of resolution makers fail by the end of January. That gives half of us 31 one more sleeps to try and pull things off.

As I was filling out my calendars for the year to come, the thing that struck me the most was how quickly times passes by. My oldest daughter will be 27 next year, my other daughter, 25 and our son 16. My husband and I will be 50! How did this happen?  Exciting and yet instilling a sense of urgency in the same breath. I don’t want my goals to peter out the end of the first month of the year, hence seeking after my word.

I actually bantered with God a bit when I heard the word He wanted me to focus on this year. It felt like a ‘this will require much’ kind of word, so I had to make sure you know. Some years God presses more into my character and then others are about adventure and discovery like last year with the word, Delight.

God confirmed it through a song at church this morning called ‘I Give It All’, in these couple of verses; Though darkness may surround me, your love provides the light I need, So I’ll trust in you, so I’ll trust in you. Your will is my will, your heart is my heart, though I may resist, take every part. I give it all to you, I give it all to you. It was a perfect picture of the dichotomy of being new in Christ and trying to do it on my own. Though I may resist, God knows the pull of my flesh and the desire of my heart to give it all to Him. Regardless of my resistance, He can change me.

And so, I will Trust…Isaiah 26:3,4 “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, the Lord is the Rock eternal.”

TRUST – to place one’s confidence in, to hope, that which has been entrusted. I love how it is defined in Greek, Pistis is the word, which is what I would do if I didn’t surrender to this process. Haha Seriously though,  it means faith, belief, trust, confidence, persuade, be persuaded (come to trust). They go on to explain that this is a gift from God, God’s divine persuasion therefore it is distinct from human belief (confidence).

In other words, this is Not something that I can strive for, it is a gift God gives. So as I seek Him, I need to be in position to receive what He has for me. It seems like a fitting process to my living in the victory of my identity doesn’t it? God knows better than I do about what I need.

How about you? Will you seek after the One Word process and see where it takes you? What do you have to lose? Comment and let me know what your Word is and we will see what God will do. Share your goals and resolutions if that is your choice too, accountability in any arena is key to success. Be blessed and C’mon 2017.

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Come & Adore

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem  and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:1,2

Adore – love and respect someone deeply, to worship, to express reverence and homage.

Adoration – the act of worshiping, a deep love and respect.

Who do you adore? God invites us in this season to come and adore His Son that He sent to this earth in the form of a baby. God is love. The adoration aspect of love could only be accomplished through the innocence of a baby. If Jesus had come originally as a man, this type of love may have been missed. God became tiny, wrinkled, crying flesh! Oh the wonder of it all.

He was announced with a star, imagine your very own shining star calling out your birth. A heavenly host was sent to terrified, astonished shepherds praising God and sending them to the manger. The shepherds were so moved that immediately they went to Bethlehem to see what had been told to them. Does this wonder move you? Are you glorifying and praising God for all that you have seen and heard?

Luke 2:9 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Imagine Mary, a mother’s adoration taken to the next level as her son, God’s son was adored and worshiped by so many unlikely characters. To ponder is to think about something carefully but the Greek definition means trying to put things together. So as Mary was observing all the things around her, she also was trying to figure out what does this mean for my son, for me, for God. She accepted in faith what was to come. We know the story but do we accept in faith what that means for us?

I have been paying particular attention to the words in Christmas carols this year, it has been the way God has highlighted for me to keep His story fresh. O Come All Ye Faithful was my inspiration about adoration.  Come and Behold Him Born the King of Angels O Come Let Us Adore Him Christ the Lord. Our King came, as a baby, so we can relate to Him, adore Him and share His story. God’s great love story. He wants your heart, so He can give you life. Does He have it? Come and adore Him.

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I am Least

Matthew 25:34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

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Today I met a man I will call Joe. He was worn and leathered, a hard life written over his skin and in his eyes, like a well-read book. His nicotine stained moustache framed the mouth that spoke pleas of desperation. He was holding a sign, I did not read it, I just looked into his eyes and shook his hand as I introduced myself. He proceeded to tell me that he was having a bad day, a bad life really and mine was good because I did not have him in it.

 

 

At that moment, the store manager interrupted, possibly thinking she was ‘saving’ me from Joe and offered him coffee if he would put his sign away and come into the store. I pulled out what I thought God would have me give him and walked around the store praying He would give me the opportunity again. Funny thing, I never shop where I went today and I was shopping for friends whose family was down with the flu. God had an appointment for me. The opportunities He presents are endless, if we would only look.

Joe was back at the door when I was leaving. I stepped over extending my meager offering and talked with him a bit more. I blessed him and left and as the door was closing I thought I heard him say wanna give me a ride home. I unloaded my groceries in the -30 with wind temperatures and did the bargaining thing with Jesus, you know, like if he really said that Lord and you want me to drive him home, let him walk out of the store when I drive in front of it. Guess what? haha I rolled down my window, “Joe, do you want a ride?” His eyes lit up and he slowly limped around and slid in.

Turns out, his little shelter apartment was on the way to my friends’ home. Funny how even this unexpected appointment was ordered. Joe shared his life, his look was a true reflection of all he’s lived. 40 years ago an accident paralyzed half of his body and he has been unable to work. We talked about Jesus. He knew God saved his life and he has been searching for his purpose ever since. I told him I think it was to make people smile as he hadn’t stopped telling me how kind and beautiful I was and that my husband was very lucky.

As we pulled up to his building, he said he was going to fight the eviction notice they have given him, but he wasn’t fearful. He didn’t know where he would end up next. I asked if I could pray for him before he got out, oh yes a beautiful angel to pray for me he said. I asked God for the impossible which isn’t impossible for Him. For Joe’s healing and provision, for God to be his strength. As he got out of the truck, he said it was God’s will that he met me today and if I ever change my marital status to come looking for him. That made me laugh out loud and I assured him that it won’t but I pray he is blessed and it was a pleasure to meet him.

I share this story with you today not because I think Joe is the least of these but because I know that I am too. I know that I needed Jesus and He saved me and set me free from sin and death. So when I give of my heart and time to someone that may have less than me, I know they are not lesser than in the Kingdom of God. Compassionate actions are the central message of the gospel and though the least of these may not encompass only the poor and needy, God gives us compassion for those that are.

I don’t know if God intends our paths to cross again on earth but I do know I will see him again someday. In 1986 he said, I accepted Jesus as my Saviour and I went back and thanked the nurse that saved my life. Our encounter was just as much for my heart today as perhaps it was for his. It reminded me that God answers us when we ask Him for opportunities to love others with His love. It shows me that a smile and being noticed can bring light to someone’s eyes. I saw how life is not all about me and God wants to interrupt us so we can extend His hope. I saw Jesus in a broken, frail man who seemingly had nothing but really had all his heart required. And I can pray. Thanks Joe. Thanks Jesus.

hope-1804595_640How can you extend the hope of God to someone today? Pray that God will open your eyes for opportunities and to have a heart willing to be interrupted. You might be surprised.