AUTHOR: Shari Tvrdik
God so loved the world.
But I don't think I do.
I don't mean to not love the world. I just get caught up in the fear of the every day warnings, the hatred and division given in heaping teaspoons via social media, radio, my neighbor's update on the world news, my own doubts, exhaustion.
I walked by a homeless man last Friday night as I exited a missions fund raiser event.
We were dressed up for the evening, and I had my twelve year old granddaughter with me.
He asked us for money.
"We should go talk to him...find out his name." she said.
She was saying this because this is what I taught her after all my years of mission work with the suffering poor.
"Don't throw them money, don't pass them your old clothes....talk to them, look them in the eye and ask them their name."
She had sat in on my lectures...heard me state this in workshops.
But that night was just a little too cold.
I was in a little too big of a hurry.
I was a little too afraid.
My heart was just a little too hard.
So I made excuses.
It's not safe.
I have my granddaughter with me.
As the Holy Spirit nudged me to rethink those statements, I ignored.
Somehow I reached within for the days gone by as if they would save me.
When I was far away from here and swimming in a sea of suffering people.
When I was the missionary.
We ducked into the restaurant for dinner, but I had disappointment her...and myself.
That night as we lay down to sleep in our hotel room, my granddaughter prayed for the homeless.
I heard a piece of me in her prayers. A piece I had lost.
There it is...I thought.
The next morning, on our walk to Starbucks before a day of more missions meetings,
I walked by a homeless woman.
This time it was bright daylight.
The sun was warming us.
She was aged and friendly with a cute little pug dog wearing a pink bonnet who sat directly on top of her shopping cart that was piled with blankets.
She smiled directly at me.
"Hello!" she exclaimed as if I were her old friend.
"Hi!" I replied with a friendly heart and kept on walking.
One block away my granddaughter pierced my bruised conscience,
"I wonder what her name was?" she asked.
God, in his kindness, had removed all obstacles from the night before...and still...I didn't stop.
I thought for a good few minutes about my heart.
I asked myself questions that only a good paid therapist could answer.
I don't know when I grew afraid, or cold, or tired...
but I did.
"I'm so sorry." I said.
"I don't know why but I've lost something..."
The flame had gone out in my heart.
I had somehow shifted from a woman devoted to reach the poor for Christ to a woman capable of ignoring the street person.
I had warned about the "us and them" mentality and here I was....right there where I once judged others for standing.
How on earth did this happen?
I felt drenched in the doom of me.
And then I realized,
I can not love the world.
I do not.
Maybe I never did.
But HE does.
He loves so greatly, so intensely and all the love I ever had for anyone was HIM.
So now when I'm lost, when i'm so far from where I should be, I only need to find Him again and ask HIM to fill me with that love.
To love the world through me again.
Like He once did, when I would drop everything to notice the one marginalized and to give credit to their being on this planet by looking them in the eye and seeing them.
The drunk man in the street,
The broken child with no parents,
The prostitute with no self worth,
The angry thief who had just stolen my money,
I would be overcome with love for them showing them with pure and true love that they are worth everything to Jesus.
And so this is what I prayed, with my Starbucks coffee in hand, my sweet granddaughter by my side and my missionary days long faded into a distant story.
"Help me Jesus....show me how again... save me from my selfish self...love through me again."
And I trust He will.
This is what God says,
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