Sunday, August 25, 2013

Power in the Light

This morning as we were getting ready for worship, our electricity went off.  A few weeks ago there was a bad wreck in our neighborhood that took out a light pole and our power was out for about 5 hours.  Normally, this morning wouldn't have bothered me except that I hadn't finished with my hair... which requires electricity.  :-)  We have room darkening shades and black out curtains in our bedroom because we like to sleep with it totally dark. So when the electricity went off it was amazing how DARK it was in there!  It's also funny how trained we are to turn on the lights.  Knowing that there was no electricity, the first thing you do is still reach for the light switch.  It's like instinct; second nature.

Fortunately, this time the lights were only off for about 2 minutes and then they came back on.  So we don't know what happened but we were glad it was short lived.  But while the lights were off, I raised up one of the shades in the bedroom to let the light in from outside.  Our house faces the east so there was lots of light to come in and dispel the darkness.  But what was most interesting to me is what happened when the lights came back on.

Since we were getting ready for church I went ahead and let the shade back down and when I did I noticed something.  Remember we have room darkening shades... but the light coming in from outside was so bright I could still see the the outlines, shadows and distinct images of the trees outside of our window.  It was very clear that the light was shining through a tree.

It made me think about our lives as Christians.  As Christians, if you are walking in the light, walking with Jesus, you can never really totally pull the shade down and cover your life.  If you are walking with Jesus, even when you think things are at their darkest, He is right there with you.  Keep treasures of His word in your heart and even if life is trying to pull the shade down on you, His light will shine through you just like it shined through that darkening shade in my room.  It may not be as bright as you want it to be, but it's there. It's there enough to let you know that you are not alone.  He shines through your darkness and provides you with a light filled with warmth.  And no matter how dark it may seem at the time on the outside, God's light shines through you and out of you from the inside.  It shines so brightly that the darkening shade that might be your life cannot block it out and it's very clear who you are and Whose you are.

So no matter what may be going on in your life, remember that someone around you may be watching and noticing the light that shines forth through you. Just as we instinctively
reach for the light switch when the electricity goes off, we can instinctively reach for Him when we feel like our spiritual light is going out.  Because when you walk with God, even when you feel like you are in the dark, you still have His light shining through you.  So let your light shine... it just might shine brightly enough to break through someone's darkening shade!

 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 1:4,5

In the same way, let your light shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:16


Thursday, August 01, 2013

Compassion & Caring... A Lost Art?

This morning was one of those mornings... I got in my car, started it, then when I turned on the air conditioner I heard a loud clank and the car died.  Fortunately, after a minute it started back up, but you couldn't turn the air on.  With thoughts of a 104 degree day and a 112 degree heat index, the thought of no air conditioning was not appealing.  So we began the trek of taking the car to the mechanic.

Chris drove the car and I drove our truck so we could both get back.  We stopped on the way to get gas in the truck (seems like every time we get in that thing it needs gas!!) and as Chris came around to put gas in it for me, I rolled down the window and said "fill er up"!  I remember going to the gas station when I was kid with my parents.  You pulled into the gas station, rolled down your window and a nice man came out to the car.  And that's what you would say, "fill er up".  Then they would ask if wanted your windows washed.  And... gas was around a whopping 36 cents a gallon!!

So, Chris gassed up the truck and we headed on our way.  The radio in the truck has been going out for a while and since we rarely drive it, we haven't replaced it yet.  Well, this morning, it didn't work at all.  So it gave me time to think; which was really quite nice!  As I sat in the quiet I thought about how things were when I was kid.  At gas stations, attendants pumped your gas and washed your windows.  At the grocery store, one person checked your groceries and another person bagged and carried them to the car for you.  Your mailbox was right by your front door so lots of times you talked to the mailman.  You actually interacted with people.

Now a days things are so different.  We go to the grocery store and we look for the self checkout.  Even if there are open lines where people are actually working the registers. We want to get it and get out.  It's like we are in stealth mode or something.  Get in and out before anyone sees you so you can be on your way!  I admit it, I am guilty!  I realize there are actually times when you really do have somewhere to be, but the problem with living like this everyday is no one knows how to talk to anyone anymore.  The problem with living like this is we don't interact with anyone around us.  Maybe that's why we find it so hard to see the hurting people around us.

People like to say we live in a microwave society.  We want everything fast.  And while that's true, I think we also live in what I would say is a very self centered society.  I think there are many ways in which we can be self centered but what I am talking about is how we never really stop and smell the roses any more (as they used to say).  We are always in such a rush, we don't want to take an extra second, let alone a few minutes to have a conversation with someone.

How are we supposed to see the hurting if we are never interacting with them?  How can we see the hurting if we never stop long enough to look them in the eye?  How can we feel their heartbreak if we don't stop and offer a kind word.

Jesus was able to see people because he was with people.  He was engaged with people.  He was there, in their lives talking to them, looking them in the eye, shaking their hand, putting his arm around them and they knew he could "see" them.

I wonder what it would look like if we started going about our day and thinking about how Jesus was with people.  Would we smile more when we passed someone?  Would we speak more?  Would we look people in the eye more?  Would we just simply show an interest in their lives?

How can we know that single mom is down to her last loaf of bread if we don't speak to her?  How can we know that someone's heart is hurting if we don't look into their eyes?  As I said before, I am guilty... Guilty of always being in a rush and of not wanting to take that extra second to speak because it might take longer than what I have time for at the moment.  But then what happens... the moment passes and then we've missed an opportunity to be Jesus to someone.  We've missed an opportunity to show them what it looks like for someone to care.  We've missed a chance to show compassion for someone else.

It doesn't take but a few minutes to show those you come in contact with that you care.  It doesn't take but a few minutes to show them what Jesus looks like with skin on. Those few minutes could be just what they needed to get through that day.

I'm am going to try and make every effort to change the cycle in my life.  I'm going to try and stop going into the self checkout when there are open lines with cashiers.  I'm going to try and look into people's eyes more often and try to see in them what Jesus would see in them.  And maybe they will see at least a little bit of Jesus through me.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself."  Matthew 27:37-39

"Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing."   1 Peter 3:8,9