Conversations

Are You My Neighbor?

Sitting here in mud and filth, bloodied and bruised. All these people walking by. Do they see me? Do they see me broken and blood-stained? Does anyone see the pain and mess I’m in?

 

I see a doctor headed my direction; maybe he will see me and stop to help. … As he passes me by he lifts his phone up to his ear and moves to the other side of the street. …

 

A familiar face from the church in town is headed my direction. She is always doing good things for people: feeding the homeless, going on missions trips to foreign countries, attending prayer groups and Bible studies. She is well known for helping people. Surely she will see me and at least help me get up out of this mud!

“Are you ok? You really shouldn’t sit in such a muddy mess.” she says. 

I wonder why she is asking. Do I look like I might be ok? Before I can answer, she starts praying for me as if she figured out what I needed help with. 

“Amen.” she finishes praying and gives one last heartfelt comment while she walks away “I’ll be praying for you!” 

 

How can all these people just keep passing me by without helping? 

Maybe they see but don’t understand?

Perhaps they think it’s none of their business?

I suppose it’s possible they are afraid.

Maybe they don’t know what to do or say.

 

Wait. I know this person coming my direction. I see him every day. We aren’t close friends, but maybe he will recognize me. Almost as if embarrassed to know me, he cautiously approaches, looking around to check if anyone notices him coming toward me.

“What did you do to get yourself in this situation?” he says with a look of disapproval. “You probably could have avoided this. Maybe you should get yourself up out of that mud and cleaned up.”

Unbelievable. Even he seems to be heartless and blind to my helpless situation. 

 

Tears overflow and roll heavy down my face. I was trying to hold things together and be strong, but this almost hurts more than these bruises and gaping wounds. I try to get up. I don’t want to sit here anymore. I’m determined to get out of this mess on my own, but as I try to lift myself to my feet, my legs give way and I fall hard, back into the sloshing muck. My hands are too muddy now to even wipe the mud and tears from my eyes. I’m overwhelmed and wonder if its even worth it to try getting up any more. 

Looking around for something to lean up against and keep my head out of the muddy water, I think I see someone approaching. There is something different about him. He doesn’t act like all the others like I have a contagious disease. He carries himself confidently as he approaches me. He walks right up to me and kneels beside me in the mud! He lifts my good arm over his shoulder to start helping me up and says to me

 

“I’m here to help you. The Father sent me. He knew that you were in trouble and needed help so He asked me to come. I’m sorry this happened and that you are hurting. I’ll get you patched up and in a safe, comfortable place to sleep with good food. I will help you get back on your feet.”

Fresh tears, now of relief, flood my eyes.

I am so overwhelmed at this kindness. I thought surely no one would even help me get to my feet, but here this man is getting dirty to help me and what’s more, offering to pay for a night at a hotel!

“The Father knows about all His children. He sees every moment. His heart broke when He saw what happened to you. He wept for you as each person He sent to help you did nothing. He was in tears when I left to come find you. He told me that He had to send me because I know first-hand what you’re going through. So I came straight away.”

He lifts me almost effortlessly up out of the mud. Blood and filth are now soaking into his clothes and shoes. I hold on with my better arm as he carries me to the closest hotel. This kind and caring person checks me over for broken bones finding only a dislocated shoulder, sprained wrist, and some serious cuts and bruises. He tends to my less serious injuries and calls a doctor to come take care of the others. Generously, he pays for room and board until I’m restored to health. 

I am overwhelmed with gratitude and amazed how The Father sent such a kind and compassionate person to help me. He was familiar with my suffering. He was an image of The Father to me. He was my reminder that The Father knew my condition and as always, was still here, still taking care of me. I didn’t see The Father face-to-face this time, but I saw His reflection and recognized His love for me in the one He sent.

Conversations

Library Card

“Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.”
– Isaiah 40:28

 

Just for kicks I decided to do a Google search for “knowledge” – 1,330,000,000 results returned! I can’t even conceive that many things about “knowledge”! And each one of those results was put together by human beings so no doubt there are many things repeated. This verse made me stop to think about how vast God’s knowledge is. God’s knowledge though, has no duplicates, no repeats, but still extends far beyond our capacity to comprehend. It is overwhelming to think about how every good leadership principle, parenting principle, academic subject, self-help book, etc. comes from God’s vast knowledge.

I imagine a huge library, the end of which I can’t see, wall-to-wall and floor to ceiling, cathedral heights of nothing but books. It reminds me of a well-known animated movie where the main female character of the story is surprised as she enters a library in a castle where books are wrapped all around the walls and went from floor to ceiling. The library of God’s understanding and knowledge stretches even bigger than this!

I imagine taking one of the books off the shelf and look at the title: “How to Forgive”, author: God. Jogging down the row of books in front of me, finger tips grazing each book as I run, I pick a random book from the shelf where I stop and I read the title “Connected: Curing the Pandemic of Everyone Feeling Alone Together“, writer: Erin Davis, author: God, research conducted by: Erin Davis & God. Even the good books that we have written, have God’s knowledge and understanding all through them.

ancient-antique-architectural-design-442420

As I look up and down the vast array of books, I begin to feel small, but I’m realizing that just means that I will have plenty to keep me busy when I get to heaven! And in fact, rather than feeling overwhelmed, I have a sense of peace. I am getting a glimpse that first of all, there are answers to all of my questions. I may not know what those answers all are, and there will be books in here that I may not ever understand (like why does traffic have to be a thing, especially when I want to get home), but all of that is ok because what’s really important is that there are answers, and He knows them all.

How do I deal with a stubborn kid? “I’m glad you asked me” God says. “I have lots of material on that subject! We will find a few examples from your life in here, Sarah. But don’t worry, I’ve got another book that should help you understand the mercy and grace I’ve given you to be able to handle that stuff.” He says with a gentle smile and a quick wink to reassure me He’s not holding any of my stubbornness against me.

What do I do about my body and mind going haywire, especially the older I get? “Ah!” He exclaims. “There is some really great stuff over here, I’ve even got diagrams and molecular structures drawn out so you can see exactly how I fit your body together. There is a full book just about your body, Sarah, because it is completely unique. In fact, I have a book on every single person I’ve ever created. The DNA part you won’t be able to read on your own, but I can help you past all of that to get to just what you need to answer your questions.”

Why is there evil and hurt in the world? He pauses. His face turns a bit softer and more sad. “I’m afraid there are some very hard things to understand about the answers to that and I don’t think you’re going to be able to handle it, little one.” Kneeling down and putting his hands on my arms, looking at me on my eye-level He says, “Can you be ok for now just knowing that I understand these things, and that I love you so much that I am doing everything to do what is best for you? There are going to be some questions you will have, like this one, that I won’t be able to teach you all about because you won’t be able to understand them. But its ok, because I do. Can you trust me to understand and only give you what I know you can handle understanding? I know its very hard, especially for you, little one – you are very inquisitive and you love to help. Know that I love you and everyone that I have created, and my presence in the middle of those times of hurting is evidence of my love.”

I nod my head solemnly indicating I understand. It is hard not knowing everything, but as I walk over to the big sofa by the window to sit and read with Him, I’m ok with not knowing.

I know that He knows.

I know He’s got it all under control.

And right now, I have a pile of books to focus on (like building leadership potential, & raising kids of godly character, & being the best wife just for starters). These are going to take me some time to get through, and there are so many more after that!

“Daddy, will you help me understand this one?” I ask as I hold up a book He wrote called “How to Boldly Pursue God’s Dream for You”

“Of course! I taught Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Peter, even Paul who you might not think had to learn how to be bold in a way that glorifies me – that’s a surprise chapter for a lot of folks. I’ve taught a lot of my kids this one. I would be happy to teach you too, little one. Let’s read it together.”

Smiling, I hand the book to Him and curl up next to him on the sofa by the window as His strong voice begins to read and carefully explain how examples in my life fit together with His Words on the page.

Scripture Diving

Isaiah 30:19

“For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more.
He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry.
As soon as he hears it, he answers you.”
Isaiah 30:19

Observation about who God is

God is gracious. God hears me. God answers – and He answers right away.

Observation about context and/or how this fits with other parts of scripture

The verse right before this says that God waits to be gracious to His kids. Wow. He is such a good Father. He knows we want to ask, He knows we have needs, and He is waiting for us to come to Him. And when we do, this verse says, we will weep no more (God our Loving Father will wipe away our tears Rev. 21:4), He will be gracious to us, our cries/tears move the heart of our Father, and He immediately answers.

Life application lesson(s)

This verse reminds me and comforts me to know that when I’m weeping, when I’m weakest, God is still with me. It reminds me to send my cries to Him because He hears me. It reminds me that I am not alone, not without help, not without hope because He sees me. It reminds me to listen for the sound of His voice because He answers me. It reminds me that He is a good good Father, waiting to answer me, and He will answer me right away “as soon as He hears” me. I may not like the answer, but He doesn’t make me wait for it, He doesn’t tell me to “hold on a sec”, He isn’t silent as if He were absent. He sees me (Jehovah Roi). He hears me (Jehovah Shamma). He answers me (Yahweh). He holds me (Immanuel). He wipes away my tears (Jehovah Shalom, Jehovah Rapha).

Prayer

Ah Sovereign and Beautiful Father, you are Yahweh – “I AM”. Everything I need is wrapped up in you. You hear my cries and are gracious to me at all times. You care about even the smallest thing that causes me to shed a tear and you answer me. You are always right here, ready, waiting for me to turn my face, into your chest and speak my cares to you. Thank you, Abba, for your tender mercies anew each day and your grace to meet my every need. Please help me to remember these things, to hide your word in my heart, so that when I am in trouble or in need of your grace, I will seek your face and I will stop and listen for your voice and hear and receive your gracious and comforting answer back to me, your child. Amen.