Loving People // #Write31Days // Day 17
Right at the beginning of this series I talked about loving people. After all it’s what Jesus said ‘love one another…’. and we can often ask ourselves, well what does that look like? Heidi Baker, a missionary in Mozambique, always says ‘love looks like something’ and for her that means starting with ‘the one’. You can make a difference to one. I was reminded recently of a sweet story, as some friends at church are preparing for a new outreach and they higlighted this:
One morning an elderly man was walking on a nearly deserted beach. He came upon a boy surrounded by thousands and thousands of starfish. As eagerly as he could, the youngster was picking them up one by one and throwing them back into the ocean. Puzzled, the older man looked at the young boy and asked, “what are you doing?” The boy responded without even looking up, “I’m trying to save these starfish, sir. “The old man chuckled aloud, and queried, “Son, there are thousands of starfish and only one of you. What difference can you make?” Holding a starfish in his hand, the boy turned to the man and, gently tossing the starfish into the water, said, “It will make a difference to that one!
Hmm how often do we see the task as huge and not know where to start? Well let’s start with the one.
Last Christmas I became aware, through an acquaintance, of a family that had taken in a troubled child. The child had very little contact with his own parents for safety sake, and as Christmas approached he had nothing. The family who had taken him in had very little spare to offer him anything either. So someone approached me and said, can the church do anything?
Well they lived a bit of a way away but after a quick Facebook post we had donations of clothing, bedding, toys and games and some new things for his Christmas presents. What’s more I got in touch with the church local to them who then also got in touch to help. That took me about 10 minutes to organise, plus one short drive to drop off the items.
I never met the family, my contact was near by, and yet the joy I received in doing this, in helping them and in seeing the joy that was then poured out on them was huge.
Sometimes it doesn’t take much. Even just a conversation with someone when they are feeling low can make all the difference.
I’ve also been reminded recently about serving God. I think I spend my life serving God but recently I’ve met young man who has had a troubled background but is turning himself around. I don’t know him that well but whenever I see him he is serving, helping, offering to do something. Not because he has to or because he needs to, but because he wants to. I see him loving people in his actions, in his service. Not because of any reward but because I think he just gets it! God has spoken into his heart and instead of taking from people he is now giving to them.
It’s so easy to look at people sometimes and see the outer, the dirt or the aggression or the swearing or the attitude. But I always teach my kids to think behind that and wonder why someone is being like that. Everyone has a story. Sometimes it takes a lot more than thinking to get behind it, but what rich rewards there are when you do!
I read a story this week in which a woman had seen a man lying in the street. There were people around him and he looked dead. She asked if anyone had checked his pulse and was ignored, but when she did so herself she found he was alive and he had had a seizure and was disorientated and scared. She made a difference to him that day just by being there and showing some compassion.
What are we so afraid of? Why do we walk past, ignore, tut, comment or pass judgment? Any one of our lives could be so different as I now only too well.
People see me now and if they’ve not met me before they see a woman who works for the church, training to be a Vicar, nice, middle class, stable home. But it could have been so different. Twenty years ago I found myself pregnant (hmm well not exactly ‘found’, I mean it wasn’t divine intervention!), thousands of miles from home and with someone who was, let’s just say, not the person I would have chosen to be my child’s father. There are so many ‘next chapters’ of that story. And even after the next one – which is that I came home and had the baby here – so many more next chapters. But I had support, I had friends and family near by, all who helped me. I honestly don’t know what would have happened to me if I didn’t have that. I can think of any number of awful scenarios, all of which would have been entirely possible and real, even with the support that I had.
So, please, just remember everyone has a past and everyone has a future.
Love people. Stop for the one.