Blogging the Baptist Hymnal....Page 7..."Let All on Earth Their Voices Raise"
Joplin. In my world, the world of the American west of old...Joplin was the famous "jumping off" place for wagon trains full of cowboys, pioneers and home-grown adventurers. If you were from the east...wanted to go west...you went to Joplin come springtime. This springtime the thing that has made Joplin famous went from west to east...a 13-mile reverse order of devastation and grief . It is the jumping-off point for all our compassion and confusion.
When things like this happen....and they've been happening way too often these past few years...we definitely catch a glimpse of our better angels...the best of what is inside of us. For a few days we are them and they need us. We post prayers on Facebook, tweet our support, and text to have a donation to the Red Cross put on our phone bill. In other words...we love our neighbor. But then other things that don't require any compassion on our part, like politics or the Kardashians, take over the airwaves for a few days and we forget. Actually we might even be a little relieved. Anderson Cooper goes home and we are free to not look at the devastated area any longer....free again to focus on the landscape in our own interior lives; insides that perhaps have had the bark stripped right off our dream trees. We tell ourselves we will rebuild better than ever.
But what if we never forgot these desperate times? Think about what we do when things are desperate. We comfort one another, we hear they need diapers and food and we scramble to provide those essentials. Prayers are sent up for the boy whose mother can not find him...for the elderly who are perhaps wandering the rubble alone. In times like these we just can not stand to see our brothers and sisters suffer so. Joplin drove us to our knees, to our wallets, to sort through our extra household goods and for just a few days the focus was not on our problems. I am going to ask you to pretend that things are still desperate...right where you live...because they are.
I know as I write this blog that there are folks here in Longmont, CO that don't know where the next box of diapers are going to come from or would love to have more food in their cupboards for their family. Right now there is a mother who can't find her son and a forgotten senior marks off the days of their life in despair. Yes, there are agencies in place to help, but when we hear of the challenges and needs in our community and we say somebody should really do something about that....well guess what? We are somebody. I read somewhere recently where the writer said he was afraid to ask God why He won't help the suffering people out there, because he was afraid God would ask him the same question.
OK so maybe you need to work your way up to gathering up food or visiting a nursing home, but here's a fact...seed is connected to harvest. Plant a seed everyday of even the smallest gesture of love (or even like) and see what happens. Bless and you will be blessed. Smile at people, hold a door open, be polite. You may be the brightest spot in a mighty bleak day. You may be smiling at the mother whose son has vanished. Treat everyone with gentleness for we are all fighting a battle. We are all desperate. Jesus said whatever we do for the least we are doing for Him. I would smile and hold a door open for him. Just as He opened a door for me.
I challenge you to be aware of being good to someone every day for the next 40 days and watch what comes back to you. Little things, big things, unseen things. I have found one of the things I love to do the most is what I call pray in passing. See a homeless person on the street as you drive by in traffic....say out loud...."Show yourself to Him God. Let him know you are there. Bless him." See someone sitting by themselves at a bus stop...pray for him. Just a quick blessing. You can feel the power of your words putting things in motion for them and the lifting of your spirits...and you in turn are blessed. Get this please. You in turn are blessed.
In my travels across America I pass many prisons. I used to think wow people actually live in there. Now I understand that people actually live in there and as I pass I will raise my hand toward the place and bless the barbed wire asking God to please show His love to someone in there today. I drive away KNOWING I have opened a door for God to work and I totally believe he is touching someone as I speak.
It is time for people who say they love God and especially those who say they are followers of the Christ....to grab hold of the lesson he most often taught. Love. This a new commandment I give to you. Love your neighbor as yourself. And remember the worst thing you can do is feel bad because you are just not there yet...with the whole love walk thing. Be determined that you will try and not condemned if you don't. But I promise you...if you will ever get the hang of it and make it a part of your life...you will want it over and over again. You might even say...you will become desperate for it.
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