"So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other." John 13:34
My aunt shared an article with my dad who then shared it with me and now I'm sharing it with you. The message is amazing...so very applicable to our world. One day at a time, one person at a time, we can make this world a better place through unconditional love and support.
Regardless of our ethnicity, circumstances, preferences, and so on, we need each other. Not all of us are prepared to admit that or not. So when you can free up some time in your busy day, find a comfortable corner and read this article. Let it ruminate. Relatable? For me, most definitely.
This article is a powerful excerpt from the book Show Up: Step Out of Your Story and Into Someone Else’s (Dust Jacket Press, 2016) by David Staal.
Loneliness is a large and growing problem. God said in Genesis 2 that it’s not good to be alone, and that truth remains unchanged. Data continues to pile up that proves God’s point. Go figure.
Good news: Every church has the solution. But do they know?
Although we’re hardwired to connect, our society has gone wireless. Why? Look no further than busyness. It’s like a firewall that prevents one person from noticing what’s happening with another person.
Yet, when given the chance and a calorie of forward motion, compassion knows how to outmaneuver complexity. I had to take a trip to Haiti to figure this out.
While there, our missions team assisted local tradesmen rebuilding homes an earthquake tore down, ignored the chemical-warfare-like odor emanating from burning trash, and prayed for wind. We also visited an orphanage for several hours.
A week later, we returned home—but a part of me stayed in Haiti after someone ambushed my heart. No, I didn’t meet God in anything to do with the earthquake’s damage. No, He didn’t seem to appear in any smelly fires. And He certainly had no presence in the wind, or lack thereof. Instead, an unexpected sacred moment came in unusually quiet and unspectacular fashion. It took place at the orphanage when I met a Haitian boy no older than three.
Without a doubt, the American team brought joy to the orphanage. Partially from the beachballs and bottles of bubbles, partially from the small candy packs, and mostly from our group’s high spirits, the result of a day spent away from the construction site. Despite the appeal of revelry, one little boy drifted off to sit alone, under a tree and against a wall. The truth is that people who most need someone to show up for them very often appear a step or two away from all the action.
I barely noticed him as I chased a ball kicked out of a lively scrum that bopped and booted anything inflated and brightly colored. A shallow drainage ditch separated the quiet plot of shade he occupied and the rest of the compound. Maybe it was curiosity caused by his tears; maybe it was a Divine nudge. Who knows—but I rolled the ball toward the crowd, turned away from them, and made a long stride across the trench to sit down next to the little guy.
The only Haitian-Creole words I know include my name, age, and how to ask for the nearest bathroom. He was only three and rightfully knew no English. Good news: to show up for someone doesn’t require clever words. Or sometimes, any words at all. Silence is so under-appreciated and under-utilized.
With all the fun going on all around him, why did he feel so sad? No easy answer came to mind. So I thought about his life. This beautiful little fella arrived in the world like everybody else, but his life took a very different turn. To live in an orphanage means he spends every day with a lot of people but doesn’t have parents. He has to compete for attention, and the competition looks stiff. Real young, real small—he’s probably overlooked a lot. From watching how the kids interact with one another, he definitely experiences a lot of injustice within these walls; in games, in meals, and in life overall. With nothing to call his own, he finally has a fun-looking beachball kicked his way, only to have someone take it right away. Countless scrapes, putdowns, and pushes out of the way. This is not the way life is supposed to work. No mom to hold him. No dad to defend him. No one to rely on. No wonder he was sad.
His life brought tears to my eyes, too, so I scooched closer. There we sat, under a tree and against a wall next to a ditch full of stagnant grey water, tears streaming down our faces. Unable to communicate but clearly able to connect at a level deeper than any conversation could ever flow.
With eyes fixed on the drainage swill, his hand grabbed hold of my little finger and squeezed. Not the grip of someone trying to inflict pain. Rather, the clutch of someone sharing pain and not wanting to let go of the one person who noticed. Eventually, maybe four of five minutes later, he popped up and before I could even shift my weight to stand, he let go of my finger and wrapped both arms around my neck. Definitely the best hug I’ve ever received.
He took a half step back, and as we both wiped tears off our cheeks, a grin appeared and his eyes went bright—as if a window shade abruptly rolled open to reveal full sunshine. As quick as a bullet, he ran toward the crowd and the chaos, reloaded for fun.
It’s easy to watch people from a safe distance. It’s easy to fear speaking the wrong words or feel too busy. It’s easy to do little or nothing, or to stay safely within the walls of what’s familiar and comfortable. The people held down by loneliness rarely lift up their voices to ask for help. If we wait until asked to show up for someone, the wait will run long. In most cases, such a request will never happen. It’s hard to make a personal difference from a distance—even when the separation measures only a few steps.
Money will not fill the gap. The orphanage receives strong financial support. They possess plenty of toys, food, and a sturdy structure. But all that made no difference in the moment with my little friend. His was a more basic need, felt by more people than you and I can comprehend. What he needed most is something everyone can do: anyone can care enough to sit down and stay a moment. Even me.
Was the direction of his life altered that day? Nope. That’s not the point of this story. In the process of an act as ridiculously simple as a shared moment of time and attention and reaction to his life, my little friend opened my eyes to what the world needs most—people willing to show up for one another. No process to follow. No expectations. Not even effort to fix the situation. Meet him where he’s at regardless of where I’ve come from.
Loneliness is a hole people find themselves in, for whatever the reason. I’ve been that person enough to know the only solution: someone willing to show up and extend a hand—or even just a pinky.
On this National Day of Prayer, I would like to share my favorite childhood "camp song" with you. The words and feelings behind this beautiful hymn are just as true today as they were back then...and every day going forward. :-)
PS: Jesus loves each and every one of us!
Hymn by William Batchelder Bradbury
"The National Day of Prayer is celebrated (on the first Thursday of May) by Americans of many religions, including Christians of many denominations, including Protestants and Catholics, as well as Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus, and Jews, reflecting the demographics of the United States. On the National Day of Prayer, many Americans assemble in prayer in front of courthouses, as well as in houses of worship, such as churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples. Luncheons, picnics, and music performances revolving around praying for the nation are also popular observances. Traditionally, the President of the United States issues an official National Day of Prayer proclamation each year as well." - Wikipedia
Reading the Bible in a year...it's something I haven't attempted since I was a child.
While surfing Christianity.org, I found an excellent "beginning to end" plan and decided it would be a good addition to this website (and good for me as well!). If interested in a guided plan, please check out the Read the Bible in a Year section. :-)
Jesus Has Risen!
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; He has risen! Remember how He told you, while He was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered His words.
9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.
On the Road to Emmaus
13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus Himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing Him. 17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
19 “What things?” He asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said He was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”
25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter His glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.
28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if He were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So He went in to stay with them.
30 When He was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him, and He disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
Jesus Appears to the Disciples
36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus Himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”
40 When He had said this, He showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, He asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and He took it and ate it in their presence.
44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
45 Then He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
The Ascension of Jesus
50 When He had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, He lifted up His hands and blessed them. 51 While He was blessing them, He left them and was taken up into Heaven. 52 Then they worshiped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. 53 And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.
Luke 24: 1-53
Poem Author Unknown (but I'd be happy to credit him/her if I knew who wrote it)
Jesus is the gift that perfectly fits every heart,
and it is with His love that all celebration starts.
We rejoice in Him as we remember His birth
and thank God for sending His only Son to earth.
His life led from a manger to a cross on a hill
where He faithfully followed His Father's perfect will.
He freely laid down everything so that we could live,
and there is no greater treasure anyone could give.
Like a scarlet ribbon, His love wrapped around the cross
and He offered it all to us at the greatest cost.
So each time we give gifts, we remember what He has done
and honor the perfect gift, God's one and only Son.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16
This morning I was trying to help my dad by pulling all the bins and yard clippings bags to the curb for tomorrow's trash and recycling pick up. Everything was going just fine, though I was a bit self conscious having not had a shower and looked a bit like a brunette Einstein, i.e., the wild hair.
So what happened? The last bag of yard clippings was particularly chock full of twigs and such and so I had to drag it down the carport and onto the street. Suddenly the bag seemed to take on a life of its own, pulling me down to the ground. It was a spectacular fall in the street, curbside. The valiant fight with the yard clippings bag was one that I lost.
As I have no muscle strength due to inactivity (Thank you, Chronic Lyme Disease...NOT!), I caught myself in a tangled mess and was about an inch from a total face plant...God gave me that strength. No head injury. Glasses unharmed. But my shoulder, wrists, knees and feet took some damage. And I was so frustrated that my new mutant blue pedicure got messed up...I know, priorities, right? :-P
But as I walked back to the house, I wondered...why did no one help me? It wasn't an "I'm feeling sorry for myself" moment, rather, it was a sad curiousity. I had clearly fallen on the pavement and was struggling to get up. Vehicles passed by. What happened to the good Samaritans of the world? It was God who picked me up from that tangled mess, that I am certain. But it still saddens me that no one even slowed down long enough to say "hey are you ok?" One doesn't have to be a Christian to know that basic human heart response.
When I'd cleaned up, I re-read Jesus' parable on The Good Samaritan. The parable is found in Luke 10:30-37 and is as follows::
30 Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.
31 “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. 32 A Temple assistant[b] walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.
33 “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins,[c] telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’
36 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.
37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”
Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”
It makes one think...
What do we do?
What SHOULD we do?
Pay attention to those around you. Get involved. Show unconditional love, compassion and mercy. Doing good for others is always a win-win. I know this experience was a good reminder for me. Perhaps it's a good heart-felt thought-provoker for you, as well.
This morning, I sat down to my computer and felt moved to watch a sermon message. I watch a variety of sermons online being unable to currently attend my local church in person due to my disease. So I went to Living Stones Church in Kona, Hawaii. It's funny, when I saw the sermon title and as I listened, I thought "well, this doesn't apply to me as much anymore...I know I'm not in control of my life...this sermon applies more to other people..."
But as I listened further, I realized that the sermon message indeed applies and it served as a humbling reminder that I can't control everything, I can't play tug o' war for control with God. I can't win God's favor doing all the right things (that includes blending Christianity into some of my artwork) and what I want in life isn't necessarily what God wants for me. Surrender is difficult. For everyone. Period.
So I'm sharing Pastor Ryan's most recent sermon because I feel it's useful and crucial in our true relationship with the One True God. God is good and He loves us all.
This morning I woke feeling exhausted and a bit sad. This is all too common in life with Lyme.
Instead of staying buried in those feelings, I decided I needed to hear a message on Hope.
I went back to Living Stones Church, to their 2014 archive, and found an awesome message of encouragement.
It's worth devoting time to listen to what God wants for each of us.
Video Cred: Living Stones Church
Message Cred: God
Interested in being a guest blogger?