From the Editress...
As we pulled into the parking lot at Wal-Mart, our maxi van was filled with the usual excited conversation as everyone decided who would go into the store, and what they would purchase. I decided to wait in the van and enjoy a bit of peace and quiet while the others went in.
I hadn't sat there very long before I sensed that someone was looking at me. A bit apprehensively, I turned and, looking out the window, met the gaze of a woman a couple of cars away. She stood near her battered vehicle, in which were two young children, also staring at me. All three of them had tousled hair and well-worn, but clean, clothes. But it was their eyes that stood out the most - large, round, dark brown eyes, with an expression of utter hopelessness. It looked like they had totally given up on life, and had no hope of anything changing for the better.
As I continued to watch the little family, they reluctantly lowered their eyes, slowly got into their car, and drove away. My imagination created pictures of the home they were likely going to - was it a dark and gloomy apartment, or a rickety house in the run-down area of town? Who or what was awaiting them there?
Lately my family and I have been studying about how "God sees differently than we see." We've read about Jesus' reactions to the multitudes which followed Him everywhere. He didn't ignore them, or run and hide, as I often feel like doing. Nor was He critical, unloving, or mean. He didn't see the crowds as a means of exalting Himself, or act like He was too busy and important to be bothered by them.
No -- instead He saw each person in the crowd as an individual with unique strengths and weaknesses. He took time to heal countless people of their physical and spiritual ailments. He was "moved with compassion" and miraculously provided food for the multitudes on two different occasions. He didn't hesitate to take the place of a servant and to minister to the physical needs of those around Him. Then, out of His infinite love for each of us, He gave the ultimate sacrifice when he He laid down His life to pay for our sins. So, how can we learn from Jesus' example in this area?
My family and I often go to craft shows and farmer's markets to sell our products. As I sit behind our table and watch the world walk by, many thoughts come to my mind. Sometimes I am shocked or disgusted by the people I see; other times I am amused or filled with pity. But, sad to say, I am not often filled with Christ-like compassion.
When I see a woman with a walker who is struggling to reach a paper she has dropped, do I run across the room to help her? No - I'm afraid it'd draw too much attention to myself, and maybe the woman would be offended. When I am complimented on the products I'm selling, do I give God the glory? No -- I find it much easier and less awkward to say, "Thank you; I enjoy doing it." And many times at the end of a long day of selling I am just too exhausted to really make an effort to encourage people I'm talking to.
I believe the key is simply forgetting about myself - ignoring the fact that I'm hot, tired, embarrassed, or scared. I must focus instead on Christ and always ask, "What would Jesus do if He were here? How does He want me to demonstrate His love to these people right now?" A little quote I read once says, "Your life may be the only Bible the world may ever read."
It's so true -- we never know who is watching us! The world especially watches large families, and those of us who have Godly standards for our outward appearance. They want to see if our attitude matches what they see at first glance. It's a very special and important opportunity! We may never know how the Lord wants to use us to impact the lives of those around us.
I really don't know just what Jesus would have done in the situation which I described at the beginning of this article... Probably He would have at least found a few encouraging words to say... I pray that the next time I am given such an opportunity I will have the alertness, wisdom, and courage to demonstrate Christ's love in whatever way He leads.
A fellow servant,