Love Compels Me
Last year about this time I was on the island of Lesvos, Greece experiencing things I hope I will never forget. Myself and the team I was with spent time watching for people coming over on rafts from Turkey. For those who made it to shore we spent our days feeding them, the hungry. We did our best to clothe them, the oceansoaked, the shivering and the naked. We sat with them, held babies, hugged some and tried to comfort them, the scared, the grieving, the traumatized within the confines of Moria camp – a prison. We did this in Jesus name. Literally living out Matthew 25.
It seemed like the right context to be doing those things. We were in a foreign place with people in crisis, fleeing persecution, refugees, orphans, widows, those with haunted eyes with no place to lay their heads except the ground, homeless. I gave with all I had and more importantly with the compassion, strength and grace that God gave me. Everyday I was there I asked God to use me.
And now a year later here I am back home in Red Deer, in a wealthy province, a free and prosperous country from the rest of the world’s perspective. In fact this month according to a new study, Canada was ranked as the second best country in the world to live. And rated #1 for quality of life out of 21 countries that were studied.
“Canada boasted the highest quality of life of any of the countries, meaning it is economically and politically stable, family friendly, and has well-developed public health and education systems”. *
I know I have often taken for granted the many good things of life that I enjoy because I was born and raised in this country. I have come to understand that I am placed here for a reason and that it is God who placed me here. And in that place of understanding my eyes and heart see things through a different lens. When I take a closer look around my city, when I hear reports from agencies that I visit, and talk to leaders in our schools and nonprofits I come away with a different perspective and more than just a little ache in my heart. In fact – my heart is broken and I think God wants it that way because His heart breaks too. Superficial glances around our community can be deceiving – look a little closer. What lies just visible amidst the affluence, what tries to rise to the surface, whose quiet cries are calling out to be heard? The invisible neighbor, the hungry children, the lone and barely making ends meet parent, the mom and children at the emergency shelter, the refugee family trying to adjust to a new country and culture, the new immigrant struggling to adapt and learn so many new things.
And so I ask myself why do I look at the situation here differently than I did in Moria? Why do I not live out my day to day life in a Matthew 25 attitude like I did in Moria? Well a number of reasons run through my head. The situation isn’t quite as desperate and we are a long ways away from an ocean and threats of death and bombs. We have great agencies in Red Deer who are on top of all of this. And really there is so much help available if people looked, or just asked.
But God’s call to me to give generously, love in His name, feed, clothe and visit is not reserved for short term outreaches on the other side of the world or in cases of natural disasters or acts of terrorism. It is a call to a lifestyle that reflects God’s heart every day wherever I find myself. And yes there are great agencies in our city that are doing their best to feed and clothe and minister to those who enter their doors but nowhere in scripture do I read that the job is to be left to them. It is God’s call to His people to care for the last, the lost, the least, the little and the nearly dead. It is God’s call to me after rescuing and redeeming my life to live in such a way that I reflect His character to the world around me. It is my grateful response to God who loved me when I was lost, without a true home, without knowing Him as a Father, hungry and thirsty for water that could truly satisfy, yes it is a very grateful response that compels me to look at my neighbor with Jesus eyes of compassion. It should be my grateful response to rise up to meet the need of the hungry children and those in need of warm clothing in our schools. It should be my grateful heart that reaches out to those new neighbours in my community that need a friend to invite them in, get to know them, hear their story and tell them mine.
This month of March our church prayer has been for educators and students within our local schools. Within these places of learning there is much need that we as a church have become aware of. Basic needs of food and clothing – and the hands and hearts to prepare and distribute these offerings. There is also a need for us to give of our time. There are students in large classes who need one on one attention from someone who will listen to them read and encourage them. There are teachers with many students who need some one on one time and they cannot possibly give what is needed to each student who needs it. Here presents itself a great opportunity to do what love compels.
On Sunday, March 26th please take time to read the bulletin insert, stop at the tables in the foyer and learn how you can act on what God is asking – on what His love compels you to do in His name.