Thursday, 24 March 2016

Jesus loves you, regardless of the state you are in

I had another chance encounter with a homeless man, this time, I had choices; I chose to park by him and his dog. I didn't pray for the car this time - I just went ahead and bought him lunch.

God works on our hearts in mysterious little ways.

As I stood with the bag in my hand, a lady was to my left, a man in his car to my right; unwanted spectators in my moment of insecurity. I waited, I hesitated. I let my mind wander into those of my spectators. Their voices sounded very much like my own.

'Why would you give him food?'
' He's probably a drug addict!'
' It's his own fault why he's here in this state'
' You are being an enabler.'

In a moment, a voice cried out softly and said, ' it doesn't matter why he's here, your job is not to judge him but to help him.' ' You were once found wanting too, but I still loved you.'

With that, I handed over the bag with just a ' Sir,' He barely looked me in the face, but he did say thank you. He didn't look in the bag, he put it beside him. He went back into his world. I didn't get the gratification I think I wanted for my good deed.

God, has ways, of working on your heart.

In that split second before I handed over my obedience to this man, I thought of what I should say. I ended up; I pondered saying Jesus loves you. I didn't.

Why?....because I saw a man blackened with dirt, filled with metal rings on his fingers, hanging unto a dog on a leash and a split second...hearing the words 'Jesus loves you' wouldn't mean a thing!

In a split second, I thought, that the good news that Jesus loves us, would mean nothing to a person in their lowest state. In a split second, I thought hearing about the love of God would have no bearing on a man who no one saw, who people avoided, who the world 'justifiably'ignored. How would hearing that Jesus loved him make a difference to him?

Jesus, he works on hearts, in mysterious ways.

I drove away, again, having this time delivered food but not the bread of life. I felt like I failed again. How could a self proclaimed Christian not think that the good news is worth sharing to anyone at anytime under any circumstances?

I thought about my choice for a while, it rested on me like a cross too heavy to bear alone. It dawned on me that my choice is what  so many make on a daily basis. How we complicate the simplicity of Jesus' love! How we over think what Jesus can do and inflate what we do. Jesus never asked us to save anyone. He just asked us to be messengers.
We need only to be on one accord with what Jesus came to us.....first.

I made up in my mind, in only a split second, that hearing that 'Jesus loves you'  would have zero bearing on a man that was living on the streets, how could he? If Jesus loved him, wouldn't he be with family and friends? Would Jesus love him homeless?....I knew he would think these things if I told him these three words...I withheld. I over reached, over stepped, over thought, and made the love of God small enough to fit into ' my own understanding.'

Jesus, changes hearts. He's changing mine with not so chance encounters.

The Lord works in mysterious ways, his wonders to behold, I don't know what he's up to, but I know he's up to something. I trust his heart. I trust my heart in his hands.

That simple sentence, 'Jesus loves you ' it carries weight, heavy enough to stand on its own yet simple enough that it needs no further explanation. It just is.

And isn't the love of Jesus something wonderful? That love that boldly bore my sins and yours. That love that stood unashamed betwixt two thieves. That love that has the holes in hands to prove to all the doubters that it is real. That love that reaches us from our earthly graves. That loves that does not care about our station in life. That love that rescues the perishing and cares for the dying. That love that's says..I loved you first. That love that calls us friend. That love that calls us heirs. That love that invites us All in. That's the love that we must share.

Share it often. Share it everywhere.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

One space left- a lesson in obedience

It was the only parking spot left. It was right near an iron post in a corner, I wasn't positioned to drive in seamlessly. I would have to reverse. On reversing, there he was. A young man in old clothes, with plastic bags by his side filled with what looked like clothes. He looked newly homeless, despondent. I looked around the parking lot, hoping to see a reverse light or any indication that another space was becoming available. No such luck! I hesitantly drove in, beside him.

The car on my left was still running, as I looked over, I read the driver's eyes - it said- are you seriously going to park there beside him?! I held my head down wondering how his eyes had read my mind. I glanced over at the young man, I whispered a prayer - for the car! I said to my God, 'Lord, please don't let this guy do any harm to this car.' After, I said a prayer for the human, I said - 'Oh and Lord, help him', or something to that effect. I got out the car sheepishly, I tried not to look at him, thinking I was being nice by not staring. The man in the car to the left, I saw his eyes read my mind..again...'are you seriously leaving your car beside him?'

I stood in the line, it was longer than I was comfortable with, I was getting a patty for my mummy. A few weeks before she had said, "I would eat a patty from a sore foot man!" That's a phrase only a Jamaican would probably understand, it simply means, she wanted a patty, very badly, even from someone that would seemingly be unclean! I was being the 'good' daughter, I was getting her her heart's desire.

As slowly as the line moved, my thoughts raced, thinking about the man by the car. I wanted to move the car badly. Then a thought came into my head that quietly whispered, "Get a patty for him too." My mind hesitated. Then I said okay. Another whisper, "Get him something to drink too." Hesitation, then I said okay. I knew who was whispering. I ordered. With patty, drinks and change in hand, I walked back to the car. The whisper said- "Give him the change too." I am on a very strict budget, I wanted my change, I shook my head in the negative, I argued, then I decided to obey. On my short walk back to the car, which felt like an eternity, I had a few conversations with myself.

It is funny how a patty, a drink and change can make you adjust your thinking. I no longer thought about damage to the car, now I thought about damage to my ego. How would I approach him? What would I say? What if he rejects me? What will the man on the left say to me with his eyes? Should I tell him that God said to give it to him? Should I say I'm a Christian and I just wanted to help? I shook my thoughts quiet, and just decided that I would say whatever came to my mind. I stepped to the side of the car.

The young man, the young man that had the plastic bags of clothes. The young man in the old clothes that I feared parking beside. That young man that I had prayed for after I had prayed for a car. That young man- was gone!

The young man and his bags were gone, and I stood in the parking lot holding the bag. I looked around, I hadn't been gone that long, I made a 360. He was nowhere in sight. He seemingly had disappeared. I sighed. The man to the left was still there, this time, his eyes didn't reveal my mind. I opened the car door and sat. Still. I felt defeated, un-redeemed. Then I said to God - "well what exactly was the point of that?" "Why exactly would you let me do all of that for this young man to just disappear?" I didn't get the point.

As I drove away, I still looked, I wanted to give him the food, I wanted to have him feel like someone cared, I wanted to 'save' him by this one gesture but most of all, I wanted to redeem myself! I didn't want to be the girl who drove in a parking lot and parked beside a homeless person and prayed about my car- first! I didn't want to be the Christian girl who prayed for people in need when it was in my capacity to help them. I didn't want to be that Christian girl who didn't show kindness to strangers. I wanted to not feel shallow.

I didn't see him. I drove home. Mummy got two patties and a drink that day.

I related the story to a blogger friend, she remarked that it was a great story. I couldn't see it. She said, that is a remarkable story on obedience. She then asked, if that were to happen to you again- would you react differently? Would you hesitate as much? Or would you just be obedient immediately?

I believe, in all sincerity that I would be more compassionate; my thoughts would not mirror the man on the left, and I probably would have less hesitation to help a fellow human being. I didn't see the lesson at the time, but I thank God for the experience. Now- I look around for people just like him.

I want to be a Christian girl who gives as lead by the spirit.
I want to be a Christian girl who values people's souls
I want to be a Christian girl who sees people like Jesus sees them
I want to be a Christian girl who prays for people and not things
I want to be a Christian girl who doesn't care what the world thinks about her actions
I want to be a Christian girl who does what she is lead to do, even if she doesn't want to do it.
I want to be a Christian girl.

And God, He is wise. If I had gotten to deliver that bag, I might have thought of myself as 'good', I might have done like the many persons on social media, who post pictures and write long posts how they were lead to buy food for homeless people. I might have blown my own trumpet. I thought about those people as I walked over to the car with the bag. I said to myself, I won't take a picture though. We have to be careful in doing the right things, that we have the right motives. Less we think of ourselves as 'good.'

There was only one space left in the parking lot, I got it, right beside a homeless young man, I didn't want to park there. There was only one space left, Jesus, got it, in the midst of two thieves. He asked that the cup be passed from him, yet he said, thy will be done!

So I say, whatever the lesson, whatever the reason for my experience that day, thy will be done.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Fasting, does it move God?

Fasting. That Christian discipline. Fasting. That Christian discipline that Jesus said would remove certain kinds of demons. Fasting. That Christian discipline that Jesus said would remove certain kinds of demons often never goes as we plan.

On my very first serious Christian fast, I had high hopes. I expected a divine visitation. I expected Jesus himself to visit me in those quiet prayerful moments. I was waiting on the bright lights, the tears to flow and a life forever changed. I would become, after that encounter a Christian missionary or something equally selfless and fabulous!  As you probably already guessed, that did not happen. God rarely does what is expected.

What I got was something entirely unexpected. I looked relatively the same but my sensibilities had changed. My heart had decidedly become a little softer. Hard was becoming soft. I didn't sign up for that. I was in it for a change in altitude, I wanted to bear fruit, I wanted to find my purpose, I wanted an encounter.

Jesus, it seems, was in it for the heart of it.

I listened to the preacher Paula White a lot during that period. Her thoughts on fasting, and I paraphrase here:- 'Fasting does not move God, it moves you.' I wavered in agreement at the time, but at the end, I saw her point. God probably is less impressed that you can bring yourself to stay away from food to allow yourself to spend time with him. After all, we were made to worship him, for in him we live and have our being.

God I believe is decidedly pleased that you have decided to allow him to do a work in you. It is his work, his plan and he will accomplish it as he wills.

Bearing fruit, that Psalm 1 kind of bearing, takes being placed at a spot where there will be an abundance of sustainance; it requires deep roots, it requires pruning, mulching. It requires time but most of all, it requires that seed- that seed that needs to be planted on a soft heart- first!...

Fasting moves you to be obedient to God's probing and prodding. When he says move..move! When he says wait...wait.

Which brings me to my point. I haven't written in a while, partly because I had become very busy with obligations at work but upon listening in my fast...I heard...stop.

I feel like I am hearing that my blog needs to take a different direction, it is actually a series I have been mulling around in my mind for awhile but kept putting it off. So, I am listening for confirmation... I believe I have it now but doubt is still there.

So while me and my heart work out our issues, and I work on my obedience and faith. I will write what is laid on my heart, as I have always done.

That fasting thing. It accomplishes what it will. That Christian fasting. That  Christian fasting thing. That Christian fasting thing that Jesus said will get rid of certain demons, he did it too. He did it before he started his public ministry.  If he can, why not us?

What is your experience with fasting?
Did you get what you imagined you would?
Share your experience with us...

The now empty nest

The empty nest