You are on page 1of 7

Whats Your Story?

A DevotionByDon
Originally told in February 2011

1 of 7

Beginning Scripture: For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost. Luke 19:10 Jesus sent his twelve harvest hands out with this charge: Dont begin by traveling to some far-off place to convert unbelievers. And dont try to be dramatic by tackling some public enemy. 6Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. 7Tell them that the kingdom is here. 8Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously. 9Dont think you have to put on a fund-raising campaign before you start. 10You dont need a lot of equipment. You are the equipment, and all you need to keep that going is three meals a day. Travel light. Matthew 10:5-10 (The Message) Dont overlook the obvious here, friends. With God, one day is as good as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day. God isnt late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesnt want anyone lost. Hes giving everyone space and time to change. 2 Peter 3:8-9 (The Message)

Whether it was a sheep, a coin, a brother or a son, Jesus always had compassion for the lost. Im blessed to be a part of Stephen Ministry, to be a part of caring for the hurting, who may or may not be lost in the sense of not knowing Christ. None-the-less, these are people who have lost something significant in their life. As we well know, there is a world of hurt out there and Christ cares for all of them. Whenever I hear a story of trials or a demise, I immediately also think, Wow, but by the grace of God, there go I! The truth is that each of us has our own trials. Some are just greater than others and some just seem greater than others. Saying this reminds me of the definition of major surgery: If its happening to me, its major! Some of our lifetime global events have particularly caught my attention (and Im sure yours), especially when they are shown with accompanying
2 of 7

pictures of the people affected. For example, the storms in Sri Lanka, the cyclones in India, the oil spill in our Gulf and the California fires; and now the anger playing out in the mid-east, and the more recent brutal devastation from Hurricane Sandy all have captured our hearts and minds. Then consider these stories that have affected me even more, as I have reflected on reality through the lens of a personal relationship. One classmate I had been in close touch with through Facebook died; his wife was overwhelmed yet held a steady composure at the funeral. Another classmates wife died suddenly, without a warning; he looks the same but his heart has been pierced. Yet another classmate is under a devastating affect of Sclerosis of the liver, a fact unrealized to a friend of mine who wants to meet her because she looks so pretty. Listen to this story of a 50-plus year old woman who came into Janets life. This lady has moved from place-to-place, taking whatever job she can find, always sleeping on a mattress on the floor. She came from a dysfunctional family of alcoholics and non-believers. And while all of this is true, if you met her, you wouldnt have a clue! Separately, at church a one Sunday, a friend pointed out a couple and said, Do you see that couple? She has breast cancer and he is losing his sight. But you wouldnt know it by looking at them. A more recent story learned is of a relatively new friend of Janets, a lady, who looks healthy and wonderful, yet who lost her voiceforever, and without explanation, except to know it was a neurological disorder that could get worse. Janet heard of this plight when this ladys parents, who both lived in the same assisted living home as Janets mother, were moved together into a hospital because they both had pneumonia. While in the hospital, the mother died; the father, with Parkinsons, was able to return home, but began asking his daughter where his wife was. Im sure none of us can even imagine the experience of this lady, crying in pain over the sudden loss of her mother and filled with the sadness of her father, without being able to utter a sound. In her case, the good news is she was a believer. Still, the loss of her voice and her mother left her lost in significant ways, and so in need of Gods love expressed through us and others.

3 of 7

What all of these people had or have in common is that unless you stopped and engaged them, you wouldnt know they had a problem until it was disclosed. The stories of devastation of countries or areas of a country are really stories of people, people impacted, where too often lives were changed for the worse. And stories of individuals are usually like iceberg tips that show us some of the trials in a life, but not all of the trials of the person we see. For example, if you were a friend of Janets friends father, you might have known of his alcoholism, but might not have known of how that played out in his daughters life. Jesus overwhelmingly cares for these people and tells us that in Matthew 11: 28, giving an invitation and prescription for rest in the next two verses, 28 Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden light. Matthew 11:28-30 It is with this background that I now look at almost everyone I meet, or just see, and wonder: Whats your story? This question first came to me while I was in Colombia, South America, where I took the cover picture of a man pulling a cart through the city. From an appearance standpoint, he could have been me. And maybe thats what caught my attention. This same question came to me when I was recently seated in Vitos, a Hampton restaurant I visit each week. As I was waiting for and then having lunch, I was drawn to the faces of the workers, each of which had a look of a story within them. So moved by this moment, I was inspired to write the ditty, A Simple Smile. [See this at the end of this devotion.] What I have learned is we can look at someone and not know their story of difficulties, of struggles, sadness and of hardships, of some kind of need, unless we ask. And more importantly, we may not be able to know where they are with the Lord, unless we ask. Ive also learned that each person I meet has a story; everyone has a story, even those who answer your question of, Howre you doing? with a response of, Great! Its really a question of whether we can and will engage to learn their story. Our dear friend Dick
4 of 7

Woodward approaches these situations with a follow-up question of, Howre you REALLY doing? My friend who pointed out the couple in church says what we need from the Church is not spiritual police but, rather, spiritual physicians. Jesus so much as said, and lived out, the same message. When responding to the Pharisees question, in Matthew 9:12-13, He said, Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. 13Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners. So what Im wondering is, How I can be a better PA. Physicians Assistant?! One way, I think, is for me to be more aware and more interested in everyone I encounter, listening-up for tidbits that may uncover their story. And when I find a story of hurting, I need to seek some way to show Gods love. Stephen Ministry training has been good for this. After our training, we suddenly realized we were seeing many opportunities to share the love of Christ, opportunities we never recognized before. And, of course, the likely truth is we were encountering these opportunities all along, but just not aware of them. The devotional application, then, is that we listen more and seek Gods help in uncovering stories, . stories of hurt, stories of need and stories where God would have us involved. And that we do this by heeding His instructions to, Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. And if theres any hesitation, we can be reminded of guarding against that when we read in 1 John 3:17, If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him?. Now Im mindful of the challenges that come with this: first, of becoming overwhelmed and overloaded in other lives, such that we lose track of our own life, and second, of discerning out of many stories, the ones in which God would have us involved (This latter point might be called the Begging Homeless People Syndrome, where we have so many people asking for our money that we dont know where and how to respond!). Thats where our prayer comes in, asking God for His guidance.
5 of 7

From self-observation, my error typically falls on the side of Didnt go far enough, vs. the Went too far side. I need to remember we are to bear with one another, as told in Colossians 3:12-13: 12Put on then, as Gods chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, 13bearing with one another and that our assignment is simply to Go to the lost. And remembering the comfort we have from Matthew 25:40 is also a great thing, where Jesus tells us, "I tell you the truth: whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me"! In addition to the already stated help Jesus gives to us and all He loves (i.e., Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. ), He also tell us, through Paul, in 2 Corinthians 12:9, that His grace will be sufficient, but he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness. So now were to be looking for weakness? Hey, I think I can find that. First in the mirror, and then almost everywhere I go. How about you? Whats your story?

6 of 7

A Simple Smile How many times we walk right by While rushing to a place When if wed only slowed to look, We might have seen a face. A face thats tired, a face thats sad, Or maybe in despair. A face that could have used our love, A smile that showed, I care. We have our good intentions as We press to do good deeds. Yet somehow in our hustle might We overlook their needs? A simple smile could be our start, And more if we would pause To give a hand in some small way, And care about their cause. Perhaps we are afraid our stop Just might become their crutch. When all thats really needed is A simple smile or touch. The truth is that the need exists For different kinds of pills, Since poor can be defined by more Than monetary ills. So may we be more sensitized, To hear and not ignore? To give a smile that shows we hear The loud cry of the poor.

7 of 7