This week I was thinking about a combination of events that took place several years ago. I was reminded of how vast and different our world, and the people in it really are. We easily forget that even within our own area, there are completely different subcultures all around us. There are so many lost and broken people out there who just need to feel that someone really does care. They just need to know that they are loved. Most of us know who loves them more than any human could, (Jesus Christ) yet when given an opportunity to make an introduction, we often find our tongues have gone missing. Thinking about this, I was reminded of a day, and the events that took place that day, when Cherry and I were living in Spokane. A day that I wish that I could say I loosened up my tongue, and began a conversation, but I can’t. I was sitting in a waiting room, in an environment that I was not used to, and what I saw and heard saddened me. I overheard the gentleman next to me talking to another man about how long he had been waiting and that he was going to be late meeting a woman. He was letting the man know, in rather crude language, about what he was going to be doing in the next hour with this woman. He was obviously looking for self gratification at whatever cost, in addition to the ego boost of bragging about it to another person.
The man he was talking to, after having a good laugh and congratulating the man next to me on how lucky he was, proceeded to tell about how he was going to get so “baked” (high on drugs) in an hour that he couldn’t wait for his afternoon to get started.
So this was the conversation back and forth for about 10 minutes until the man next to me was called from the waiting room. At this point, I couldn’t help but overhear two strangers meeting for the first time behind me as they began a conversation. In a matter of minutes, they had begun to tell each other about their good and bad times in prison. It was another conversation devoid of any hope that began to cause my eyes to be opened again to the hurt in our world but it didn’t stop there. God was going to give me a very real life picture of how his heart breaks for people, and the love that he has for them.
Over in another corner sat a lady who was getting tired of waiting and began to get quite loud. She had called someone on her cell phone and began using the F-word, in its multiple tenses, to let the friend on the other end of the line know how long she had been sitting around. (the real intent was to let the staff know how upset she was judging by the tone of her voice and how loud she was speaking.) In the course of about 3 minutes, the friend had convinced her (or maybe she convinced herself, who knows) that waiting a second longer was not worth her time and she left in a huff.
There were several other instances that took place in that hour, and I became painfully aware, once again, how broken and fallen the world we live in truly is. So often I think that we get into our own little routines and we fail to see the people that are living life all around us. People that we pass in the mall, grocery store, coffeehouse, school, work, and streets–all of them have stories. I realized that I am often content in my own comfort zone and that I like to be around certain people and, out of habit, look for ways to avoid people I don’t like being around. Put me outside of that comfort zone for more than a few minutes and I am ready to quickly get back to my bubble. But this is a natural instinct and all of us, whether we mean to or not operate in this mode of thinking.
As I was leaving the waiting room, I realized that my emotions had gone from sorrow at the state these people were in, to pity, to annoyance, to a sense of piety, and that I was some how better than they were. The more I thought about it that rainy afternoon, I realized that I am no greater and no less in the eyes of our savior, Jesus. We are ALL God’s children and we have all been created in the image of God, with a God given purpose. The Bible says in Jeremiah “…for I know the plans I have for you.” In Psalms, we read that God knew us before we were even born, while we are still in our mother’s womb.
This weekend I read Isaiah 1:18 which says “No matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can remove it. I can make you as clean as freshly fallen snow. Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you as white as wool.” That is not an exclusionary statement intended for a select few; it is for everyone, everywhere. No matter how far we have drifted from Christ, no matter how stained our lives have become, we can always come back to our Father in heaven who is there with his open arms to accept us and love us. He can clean up our stains and make them as white as snow.
If you have felt that you have gone to far and that you are so stained and soiled that there is no possible way for you to accept Christ and be in His presence, take this promise from the word of God to heart. No matter what we have done and no matter how far we have run away from Christ, all we have to do is turn around and he is there, right beside you, ready to put his arms around you and love and accept you. You don’t have to earn his love; you don’t have to do good things for awhile and make an attempted effort to walk back up the road that you have already traveled down to find Christ. He is right there and all you have to do is turn around and start walking with Him. The same is true for anyone and everyone that you meet.
I would encourage you to find a friend this week to talk to if you have made this turn and ask them to walk beside you. Ask them to help keep you accountable this week, and the next, and the next. If you are fighting an addiction with drugs, alcohol, sex, pornography, or even if you have any abusive behavior or anger issues, I would encourage you to find someone that you can trust and ask them to walk that road with you. But before you do that, I would first ask that you spend some time before your creator and ask for His forgiveness and hand over the burdens that have been weighing you down. Jesus says in the Bible “my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” The Bible also says cast all your anxiety (worries or cares) on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)
For those of us who are committed followers of Christ I would challenge you to pray that God would open your eyes to see what he sees this week and ask that he would give you the strength to reach out in some tangible way to the people that God has given you influence over. Ask God to reveal areas of your life where you have gotten “comfortable” and shake you loose from them. God we want our hearts to break for what breaks yours and ask for the strength and courage to love people as you have loved us.
Final Thought: God loves everyone more than any of us could ever fathom. His desire is that we would all want to connect with him on a personal level and he is as close as the mention of his name if we would only humble ourselves turn and seek him.