Thursday, June 9, 2011

From "I" to "us"

Yesterday, my dog alerted me to a stranger passing by our house. He was an older man in a cut off t-shirt, a black skull cap, and a scruffy white beard covered his face. His appearance wasn’t what caught my eye. It was the huge bag of cans he was carrying on his back. I’ve lived here for years but I have never seen him before. I watched him walk to the end of my road searching the ditches and trashcans as he went. When he reached the end, he made his way back on the other side. He reminded me of the many friends that we have met along our journey...and here he neighbor. I grabbed a cup of ice water and met him on the street. As I approached him, he was if he had done something wrong. I interrupted his explanation with a smile and introduction. His demeanor changed and he immediately began conversation with me while he drank his water. We talked about weather, work, life, family, and God. He did most of the talking and was delighted that someone wanted to listen. 

His name his William, he’s 58 years old, and he’s been picking up cans for 20 years...he has the warped back to prove it. Throughout the course of this journey, God has made it apparent that before I lived in a van, I only showed true compassion and love to the neighbors in my inner circle. In marshall, I would quickly pass through the ghettos, avoid the passing man or woman on the street, and overlook the hurt that was so apparent around me. At home, things weren't any different. Many people go on mission trips out of town, out of state, and across boarders all the time but for some reason there is a hesitation when it comes to being the hands and feet in our own communities. Maybe it is because the local outreaches are not as fulfilling to the participants. Maybe it is because we are too busy with our own lives at home. Most of the time I think it is because there is a discomfort in stepping out amongst people we know. What if someone sees me here talking to them? What if I know the person I’m talking to? Who am I to help anyone? What do I do or what do I say? Even Jesus said, “...Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor.” Today God showed me that opportunities to love as Christ did are right in our front yard. The problem is that we are often too concerned with our own lives to notice or invest in the needs of others. 

My encounter with William was only about 15 or 20 minutes but my conviction has lasted all day. We, as believers, often focus on loving the Lord God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our strength and with all our mind but we fail to love our neighbor as ourself. To love our neighbor as ourselves is to think about others as much as we think about ourselves, to care for others as much as we care for ourselves, to pray for others as much as we pray for is shifting our thoughts from “I” to “us.” 
I am writing this for myself just as much (if not more) for those of you reading. Please join us in fighting to remove the blinders and tunnel vision of our flesh and see the world through spiritual eyes. Through the process, God’s glory will shine.


  1. You can't be more right. I actually remember being on the other end of this perspective. I wanted compassion from someone, someone to care about my problems and just be a caring ear I could fill, I remember thinking, "why is it, it seems, that the only way I'd get compassion from these people is if I was in a third world country". Why can't all these missionaries be just as caring and compassionate to the people they come in contact with everyday? My pray is we remember that the people around us everyday are without Jesus just the same as we reach out to in our missions. Y'all are amazing and a huge inspiration. Keep the passion, it's contagious. (:

  2. Amen, ya'll couldn't have put it any better. it can be dangerous if focus on ourselves. without realizing it we become our on idol (speaking to myself) and we think that there is nothing wrong simply because we are blinded. i'm so happy to see what god is doing and working through you girls. what i notice most your willingness to be open to the lord and to be used by him. Glory be to GOD :)

  3. I agree with you, Jenna, and Lori's comment. Your story of William is convicting and contagious! So many opportunities right around us everyday to make a difference in someones life. In our neighborhood, in our workplace, at church: we often miss them because we discount even the small things we can do that truly would make a huge impact on others. Hearing your experiences touches our hearts in a way that makes us more sensitive to the opportunities we have around us. Now let's follow their lead and the nudging of the Holy Spirit and share some Jesus love!

  4. This is exactly what our new preacher talked about this past Sunday in Luke 9. Not only did Jesus "go", but he also "saw" and "felt compassion" for people. We are so busy in our daily lives going from place to place that we rarely take the time to 'see' what is going on around us nor do we take the time to have compassion for the lost and hurting all around us. Like Denise said above, if we would just slow down long enough to feel that nudge from the Holy Spirit, even the smallest things we can do to reach out to others all around us makes a difference.

  5. Most missionaries I know when they come back to America are indeed the ones with 'eyes that see.' In fact, one of the reasons I used to take people on overseas mission trips was not so much because I thought they were going to make dramatic changes in the lives they were temporarily touching, but because they came home with different eyes.

    They came 'home' just like you have with a greater sensitivity and awareness of the needs around them. And yes indeed, the biggest challenge is the same as it was for the men who proceeded the Good Samaritan - they were busy living their lives and off to do God's business but missed God's business under their noses. This can happen to overseas missionaries too by the way.

    Whether you're a missionary (crossing cultures) or an evangelist in your own neighborhood, the hurting world needs us to pray,"God, give me eyes to see and a heart to act, even when I don't know if I can 'fix' the 'problem/challenge' you've presented me with. I trust you to lead me with open eyes and wisdom and creativity."

    Many don't act because besides feeling 'busy', they feel ill-equipped, but as this post and some of the responses indicate, what is most needed is a listening ear and a compassionate heart.