“Sometimes you pray and sometimes you’re the answer to prayer.” Erwin McManus
While on a flight earlier today, I was fortunate to share a very spirited conversation with a very enthusiastic toddler. She caught my attention when her little face peaked over the seat in front of me. She then started pointing out (and telling me about) all of the different lights that she could find in the cabin. Reading lights, aisle lights, blue lights, red lights, yellow lights. She wasn’t focused on the shadowy, boring, mundane places of the plane. She was all about focusing on the bright and colorful spots….on those lights! What a fantastic reminder about what to focus on in life. I wonder if that’s how God sees us from His throne in Heaven. After all, Jesus Himself said to his followers very clearly, “YOU are the light of the world….” (Matthew 5:14a)
And what are lights to do? Shine!
As we go through our day, watch or read the news and observe interactions on social media, one of the things that becomes very apparent is that is world can be a very cold, bitter, ruthless place. Negativity could swallow us up, if we were to permit it a foothold in our hearts and minds. As we experience negative interactions over the course of our lives, we could allow those to pile up and harden our hearts to the needs of others both in a long term (family, friends) and in a short term sense (those that God brings across our path today). In this soil the seeds of bitterness and anger take root and like quickly growing weeds, drown out the beauty that is found in compassion. We can see the fruit of this so clearly in the story of the “Good Samaritan”……….
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
What made some pass (interesting how it was the “religious” ones who passed by the beaten man) while one man stopped to not only help but provide for the need of a stranger? I believe the heart of the matter is rooted in fear. Fear of what others who will see what we’re doing might think of us…. “Why is helping that loser?” “Oh, look at that pious person showing off.” “He’ll never get a job if people like him keep enabling their behavior.” “He’s just going to take that money and buy drugs anyway.” It could also be a fear of not having enough time (I’d help but I need to get to work….or home….or to church….). Fear of not having the resources to help. Fear and judgement (by others or by what we place on ourselves…humanity loves to judge).
What made the Samaritan different? He was on his way somewhere as well. He had places to be and people to see. The difference is that when he saw the beaten man in need, he stopped what he was doing. He invested his time and his resources (and potentially his safety) in stopping to help a stranger. He took courage and didn’t make excuses. When he saw a need, he acted on it.
My theme verse for 2018 is Matthew 6:33 which says, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all of this will be given unto you.” Every morning, I wake up and almost like a mantra, I repeat to myself, “Seek first His kingdom….seek first His kingdom….” As I move purposely into my day with this at the forefront of my mind, my focus is sharper and my awareness as to who or what God might bring across my path is heightened. I am able to see the opportunities more clearly because I expect them. It may simply be a kind word of encouragement or it may be something more but whatever it is, my goal is to stay faithful.
What needs will come across your path today? What opportunities to help, or to be kind, or to offer a hug, or to buy someone a meal or a cup of coffee, present themselves to YOU today. They may be obvious or they may be hidden (sometimes in plain sight). Will you be the one to show courage and take the step of being compassionate? Will you be the one to reflect His light into a dark world? There are few who will take this beyond a conceptual musing but I hope that one of them that heeds the call to action….is you.
May He be your strength, hope, purpose and courage today.