See What Is Going On Around You

17 05 2010

A while ago, a lady asked me for $20.

She wasn’t a street person (just to give you a little context). I knew her name. She had a need and I had the money on me but there was a reason I had the money; I had something I was going to use it for and so I said that I actually needed the cash.

Something about that exchange bothered me. Didn’t I have the capacity to get another $20? I had a debit card. I could easily go to an ATM. It wasn’t a fortune to give away, was it that I thought she wouldn’t pay me back? Was that the issue? I was pretty sure she wouldn’t pay me back; did that really matter? It just kind of caught me off guard; I found her down the road and gave her the $20.

Sometimes it feels so good to give something to someone, but that day I was more sheepish than anything. Why didn’t I just give it to her in the moment? Why did I have to think about it?

Proverbs 3:27-28 says, “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it (need it, deserve help), when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back later; I’ll give it tomorrow”—when you now have it with you.”

What is within my power to do? Some things aren’t. Some things are. Some assignments are mine. Some assignments are not. But if it is within my power to act, I should.

There are times God asks me to do something BIG, but more often He is asking me to do “usual things” that I have within my power and ability to do. Often, I have whatever I need to refresh others within arms reach.

Often the thing I am asked to “do” is better described as the thing to “be.” The Holy Spirit says: “be kind to that person who is grouchy. Be patient with that person who is slow. Be encouraging instead of critical. Say something out loud to someone who needs some friendly conversation.  Be willing to connect to another human being beyond “hello.” Share your space this afternoon. Choose to fellowship with a collection of people you don’t know well. Bring a meal over. Take 5 more minutes to listen. Look them in the eye. Smile…”

Sounds so simple, but as usual, I am clumsy with this. I have my list in front of me and I am totally focused on that, over what is going on around me; I just don’t notice. If I don’t notice, then I won’t respond.

Yesterday morning we discussed what it means to be responsive to people around us: “Everyone, everywhere, everyday.” As a Christ-follower, my life is supposed to be about allowing Jesus’ love to “ambush my life” (as Mike said in the message) and then I ought to just respond naturally to people who are around me.  Kris said, “seek God and then see people” – in other words, I need to get my heart and priorities right before God and then open my eyes and be obedient to what He is asking me to respond to. It won’t be everything, but it will be something — every one of us is called to it, no matter where we are, every day.

Sometimes I get overwhelmed by what I see around me.  Driving around I see faces and more faces and I wonder, “how in the world will these people experience the love of Jesus?” I hear of needs that I know aren’t being met – I hear of needs I haven’t met. Some days my head spins over this.

But Jesus is asking me to do what is within my power to do.  I know there are unmet needs. But am I meeting the ones that I can? He isn’t asking me to fix the planet. He is asking me to care for my neighbor; that person within arms reach.

So far, today, the thing I was asked to do was to run an errand for someone and to be a listening ear. Big deal. It was within my power to do and I did it and I have time to spare.

God, heighten my awareness to what You are calling me to everyday, wherever I am. I know Your way isn’t to load me up or to motivate me through guilt. You say, “watch how I do it and do the same.” You were responsive to what you saw along the road. You heard people. You looked upon them with compassion. You touched those who were within arms reach.

This is how the planet gets to see Jesus; by each person representing Him from where they stand and representing Him through words and deeds ambushed by love.

— Teresa Klassen



One response

17 05 2010

I love Everyone, Everywhere, Everyday. It keeps me aware that in every interaction that I have with people I am to be representing Jesus. It helps me to be a bit more tuned in when God sends someone into my path who needs to talk. It’s helping me to move from being so task oriented and become more relationship oriented. (A challenge for me.) Just touching lives and encouraging people.

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