“They say you die twice. One time when you stop breathing and a second time a bit later on when somebody says your name for the last time.” ~Banksy
I have been carrying a heavy heart for a while now. 2013 came to an end with some trials but also a pleasant holiday season. But there’s something holding on.
Today I have been listening to Larry Norman records and trying to figure out what it is that I am feeling. Throughout the moments of the day, God has been putting together the pieces for me.
I feel an intense loneliness. It’s not because I am alone, though I am in some ways. It is a wave of sorrow and sadness for people that I have met and even people I do not know… The forgotten ones.
I go to a small dysfunctional church in Baden. We are an inner city ministry that is focused on the poor. During the holidays our church does the meals on wheels because they are otherwise not delivered. I love my church. It’s a ragtag group of people that could have been born right out of the old Jesus Movement.
Thanksgiving morning opened for me with a tree root damaged sewer line under my house that I will need to have dug up. I was upset and feeling pretty helpless. Pastor Don called to let me know that they were getting ready to go out and deliver meals. When I told him my predicament, he simply said “come along with us, you need to serve some people today”. I went. The first stop was a 92 year old woman who asked me to pray for her right there. She said she was all alone, but she wanted me to pray that God would help her keep going every day. It was heart wrenching. I prayed. I cried.
On Christmas day, a small team of us went out to deliver warm meals to the shut ins. A lovely young friend of mine (we’ll call her Sally) came with us. It was her first time ever. Our very first stop was an 84 year old woman (we’ll call her Jane) who literally had no food in her house. She invited us in where we spoke to her and she told us of her situation. Her home was heavy with loneliness. It was heart crushing and extremely emotional. I assured the poor woman that we would be back in a couple of hours with groceries.
We made all of our stops and handed out all of the warm meals. We made good on our promise to Jane and brought her enough groceries to get her by for several days. After this we went out looking for homeless people and brought food to them. It was a good Christmas day.
Throughout the week, however, I couldn’t shake the feelings that were still weighing on my heart. Monday (the day before New Years Eve) Sally asked if we were going out to feed people on Tuesday. She said that she had gotten ahead of herself and already bought and prepared food for the homeless.
So Tuesday we went out looking for homeless people again. We went all over St. Louis city and were able to give out a ton of food to the hungry. We still had a little bit of food at the end so we decided to stop by Jane’s house. On the way up the stairs to her house, I gave the food to Sally and told her that she’s got this one. She was feeling shy and said she wasn’t ready to talk quite yet. So we knocked on Jane’s door and were asked inside. Jane was completely out of food again. She literally had a canned ham and a Twinkie in her house. We gave her the food and prayed with her. She told us that God had forsaken her and that she didn’t have anyone left.
The despair was so thick. My heart broke for her. But before I could say a word, Sally said “No, No, No! God hasn’t forsaken you! That’s why we are here right now.” Sally doesn’t know, but I had to turn away from her because I didn’t want her to see me so emotional. It was God in action and I was so blessed to see it. He was using ordinary people who are willing. Sally’s precious heart allowed for God to bless Jane and speak to Jane at that very moment. For me, it is always powerful when you recognize that God is at work. Especially, when He is using you to deliver His love to someone who desperately needs it.
My heart is heavy for Jane and for all of those people who are forgotten. Loneliness and despair are heavy, black clouds that surround these souls. I wish I could fix it all. But then it hit me.
The way my heart feels right now is the way that Jesus feels towards us all when we are lost or hurting. He wants so much to fix it. He has the power. He just needs willing hearts to be open to love. Sally has an amazing compassion in her heart. No doubt Jesus will bless many people through her as she journeys with Him. All of us must find a way to open our hearts to be tools of His blessings.
We need to grab a hold of the revelation that we are all treasures of God. Each and every individual is so precious to God that He gave His Son that we can be reconnected to Him. That love, that grace is free to all. We can’t earn it by being a good person. But once we come to believe that Jesus’ sacrifice has saved us from our sins, we should desire to let that grace and love flow through us to those who need it most. I am trying to learn this!
Compassion comes very easily for some. It is a gift. My Mom has it. Sally has it. My friend Angi has it. Pastor Don has it. God has had to work harder on my heart over the years. I have been too cynical, too guarded and too judgmental in my life.
Pastor Don taught me something on my first time feeding homeless people. I asked him how I would know they are homeless? He looked at me with a furrowed brow and said, “You don’t have to know that. They just need to be hungry”. That seemed overly simplistic at the time. But it’s been a revelation to me.
I easily get caught up in the ‘why’ they are homeless instead of the fact that they are homeless. I would judge them and assume that they arrived at this station in life because they earned that. But taking all the prerequisites away and just simply feeding a hungry person helped me to tear down my presuppositions.
Years later I understand that what comes so naturally for my Mom, Sally Don or Angi is the basic fundamental of the faith. What matters to God is that we are lost, not how we got lost. He is reaching out the hand of Salvation to us where we are. Mine is not to judge how that person got where they are, but simply to show them the love of Jesus. It is that love that saved me and it is not conditional. Anyone who believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, accepts that His death is for the remission of our sins, believes that He rose from the dead and truly repents of their sin WILL BE SAVED. There is nothing I can do to earn or add to my Salvation. It is 100% by the grace and mercy of God and it is His free gift to all who are willing to receive it.
So my heart is heavy with the loneliness of those that are forgotten and those that are lost. But I am encouraged to see that God works mightily through hearts that are willing to love people like Pastor Don or Sally… or even me… How about you?