I’m sure you’ve heard the saying before: “Man is not an island.”
Well, let me tell you, I’ve tried, for much of my life, to prove that wrong. I am by nature an introvert. Most of the time I am much happier being by myself. While I enjoy people around people at times it takes a lot of energy out of me and after a few hours I’m usually exhausted. I love extroverts, I admire their ability to interact with people all of the time and not get tired, but that’s just not me.
Despite my best attempts though, I have been unsuccessful. In fact, as I’ve gotten older especially over the last 3 years or so, I realize more and more just how connected to other people I am and how much we all need each other. Others help us see and understand things about ourselves we can’t see for ourselves. They hold us accountable. They remind us who we are, what we believe, and what we’re all about. They bring us back down to earth when we’re flying too high and they help us up when we’re in the valleys.
At different seasons in my life I’ve had different people who, when I’m with them, make everything seem right with the world. I pray you can say the same. If not, even if you’re an introvert, I encourage you to find that person or even those people. That person who reminds you who you are and what you’re about. Who knows just the right thing to say, just the right thing to do, and helps life make sense when it gets cloudy.
We all need those people. Yes, I can admit that even I am not an island.
I’ve had the opportunity to spend a large part of this past week in and around the Seattle area of Washington state. If you’ve ever been there, you’ll understand how pitifully words and even photographs convey the natural beauty of the area. If you haven’t been there, I encourage you to put a visit on your “bucket list.”
I have been to Seattle a couple of times before and have never been disappointed. But, the weather this time was absolutely gorgeous. As I marveled at the mountains surrounding me on all sides as I drove on the freeway through downtown Seattle I had two thoughts. 1: I wondered if people who live there appreciate the beauty. 2: I marveled at what an amazing God and creator we have. So often we rush through life, checking off our to do lists, and doing what we do. But, every once in a while we get a chance to just sit and admire his beauty. I did that yesterday for several hours. Just sat at the beach watching the water, listening to the waves, feeling the cool breeze from the water balancing the warm sunshine, and admiring the mountains in the distance. I was thankful that my God created me with the ability to just sit and enjoy such natural beauty. That he uses such experiences to rejuvinate me and make everything seem right with the world. And I can tell you that my personal relationship with my Savior is much stronger after that rejuvination and sense of renewal.
What do you enjoy? What rejuvinates you? Take some time in the next few days to marvel at what an amazing God we have and be rejuvinated by his power and love.
Loss – that’s a tough thing to deal with, I don’t think anyone is going to try and deny that. Loss spans the spectrum and goes beyond losing an individual. For me loss is a bit more abstract and a bit more subtle, but it’s there and it’s very real.
On Sunday Ski said or rather shouted (if you were there you know I’m serious) “Churches want to put out their hand to help people out of the mud, but that’s not what our Savior does. Our Savior climbs in the mud with you and pulls you up and helps you out. That’s what we’re about.” We are about that because we recognize that Christ has pulled us from the mud countless times and he calls us to reflect that love for His glory.
That means sometimes we’re going to be uncomfortable. We’re going to do things we never wanted to or thought we’d do. But there are people who are hurting. People who need Jesus. And the way in which we bring them the good news of the Gospel is by climbing into the mud and getting dirty. We can’t picky about who or when or where, we just have to do it.
When was the last time you jumped in the mud to help someone else out? Who in your life right now is in the mud and needs your help?
Do you ever stop and marvel at the interconnectedness of humanity? Maybe that idea seems far to deep and abstract for some of you, but seriously, just try thinking about it if even for a brief moment. It baffles me really.
Here at The CORE today we have had 8-15 people from one of the homeless shelters in Appleton stop in. They’ve been fed, given something to drink, and of course heard that Jesus still loves them and forgives them in spite of all of the mistakes they have made. And can I tell you something? Each of those individuals has now made an impact on my life. Perhaps it is a very small impact, but nonetheless an impact because we are all connected. At the end of the day, we are the same. We are poor miserable sinners in need of a Savior. And if you think otherwise, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you are missing the truth.
I am someone who remembers people, I remember experiences, I remember conversations, I remember faces. And when I stop to think about all of the people I have come into contact with in my life I can’t help but thank God for those experiences and deeply regret the times that I wasn’t aware of the others, that I thought myself too good to interact with certain people. He uses people to do his work here on earth, how humbling is that!
Have you stopped to thank God lately for the people he allows to come into your life – Even if for a very brief moment?
“Never underestimate the importance of simply being physically present in the place God wants you. You may not be asked to perform some dramatic ministry, but simply being there is a ministry.” – Warren Wiersbe
We have had tons of different people in and out of The CORE in the last two days. For me, this means lots of people watching – or people observing if your prefer that term. Call it what you want, but I pay attention to people’s actions, to their body languages; perhaps almost more than their words at times. And let me tell you what, God has blessed us with some amazing people around here. People who live the quote above, people who may not perform some dramatic ministry but participate in ministry simply by being in a certain place at a certain time.
Yesterday, I sat and watch a 70+ year old man walk up and make conversation with a stranger who walked into our building. A stranger who may not have a home, who probably hasn’t showered in a couple of days, who may not be in a right state of mind. I took note of that 70 year old man’s actions. His actions tell me there is something different about him.
I sat and watched a middle aged man sit down and make conversation with a young woman visiting our building. She sat in our building for hours and very few people walked up and talked to her. That man may have made her day.
I am someone who always wants to be doing something, always wants results. I want the “dramatic ministry.” I have to stop and remind myself that I am God’s tool. He will use me in the way he sees fit. And sometimes, that may mean talking to a stranger who walks into our building. Because bottom line is, those people are looking for their Savior too. They are watching his people – their actions much more than their words.
What would people think of your actions? What ministry are you doing by simply being present in a place?
“It is, perhaps, one of the hardest struggles of the Christian life to learn this sentence – ‘Not unto us, not unto us, but unto Thy name be glory.’”
To God be the glory – It is one thing to say it, yet another very different to believe it and be convicted of it. But when I make myself take a moment to stop and reflect on the world in which I live I can’t help but think “To God be the glory!”
It has been nothing short of a crazy rollercoaster ride since we embarked on this crazy adventure last fall. I wish words could capture the amazing ways in which God has been glorified through the process and the countless ways in which he has shown his greatness.
I get the question all of the time, “What do you do exactly?” The next question is usually something like, “How do you know how to do all of that?” That answer is easy, I don’t. I learn as I go. God is good and he uses people like me, people like you, to do seemingly impossible things that he might be glorified.
So, as we continue on this journey together let us learn from one another, let us share ideas, let us work for the Kingdom side by side, but most importantly I pray that we remind each other often, “To God be the glory.” It is only by his power and grace that we are able to accomplish anything.