Have you ever asked someone how they were doing or what was wrong and had them pour their heart out to you? Sometimes when that happens the problem or situation may be something you may have no idea how to handle or what to say. This happened to me at the Epiphany weekend when I asked one young man about his family. He told me of many events from his life where people who were supposed to love him the most, let him down in huge ways. I had no words of wisdom or advice for him because my heart was hurting for him so much that I was speechless. All I could think of to say was "I’m sorry for the things that were done to you that have hurt you so much." I felt guilty later, because I couldn’t believe that I didn’t have anything better than that to say!
Today, I watched a video called "Fruitcake and Ice Cream" by Louie Giglio. Louie shared from a journal written by a college student named Ashley. In her journal Ashley told how she had to get a new roommate for her last semester of college and this roommate turned out to be a Christian. Ashley called her "fruitcake" because she was a Christian. Ashley shared in her journal how she had come home one day upset by some things that had happened and grabbed a beer & ice cream and sat down to console herself. "Fruitcake" asked her if she was ok and proceeded to get out more ice cream and sat down to listen to Ashley pour out her heart. Ashley commented in her journal that she was surprised that "fruitcake" didn’t give her cookie cutter answers or judge her. She just said, "I’m sorry that was done to you."
It hit me as I heard that: I do not have all the answers and I do not need to!! Sometimes it’s enough just to listen and say, "I’m sorry!" Ashley ended up coming to Christ within 2 weeks of "fruitcake" moving in with her. Not because she "preached" with words to Ashley but because she did it with her life! Ashley saw something different in her roommate and she wanted whatever it was!
James 1:19 says, " My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry"
1 Peter 3:8 says, "Finally, all of you live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble."
Nowhere in either of those verses does it say that we need to have an answer to every problem. It does, however, tell us to be quick to listen, to be sympathetic and compassionate. Sometimes all we need to do is listen and let the person talking know that we don’t have all the answers, but that we care about where they’ve been and what they’ve been through! Maybe then they’ll come to see Christ in us and want what we have – a loving Saviour!
Some of you may know that I was on an Epiphany team (similar to an Emmaus walk~ we spend 3 days at a juvenile corrections facility telling them about God's love) a couple weekends ago in Cleveland. Being a part of this ministry has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever been a part of. As Jeff and I were talking on the way home he said that he realized partway through the weekend that we were "eating with sinners". Not that we don’t sin, but that we are choosing to meet people where they are instead of expecting them to come to Jesus through a traditional church setting. God has called us to love and reach the lost, not judge them!
Galatians 5:6b (NIV) ~ The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
Luke 6:37 (NIV) ~ Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
If you had asked me even 5 years ago if I would be willing to allow God to use me at a corrections facility, I would like to believe I would have said, "YES!". In all reality though, I don’t think I would have been very willing. The more I grow in my relationship with my Saviour, though, the more I realize that if I am willing to step out of my comfort zone and reach out to others (not only believers, but unbelievers also), that God will bless me for that willingness! Because as nervous as I was about stepping out in faith when I first agreed to be part of this ministry, I have seen God use me to reach others for Him and be blessed in the process! If God is calling you to get out of the boat ~ JUMP IN!! If He is calling you to do something, He won’t leave you hanging…He will equip you to do it. Maybe not months in advance, but at just the time you need it.
1 Corinthians 13:2-3 (NIV) ~ If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Mark 12:30-31 (NIV) ~ Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.
We are not saved by our works, but there should absolutely be evidence in our life of Christ living in us ~ from the words we say to the way we love others, not only other believers and family, but also those that the world would tell us that we are "justified" in judging and not loving. There is no better way to let our light shine for Christ than in the way we love!