Tell me, what’s next? What is this “big plan” for my life and how is it supposed to unfold? Where I am I headed? What is that amazing “purpose” I was created for? Did I miss it? Did I make a horrible mistake and now I’m doomed for failure for the duration of my life?
Do you ever catch yourself asking questions like these? I do. All the time. And as I was brooding over them one evening, in self-pity and doubt, my wise, handsome and brilliant fiancé, Geoff, asked me this simple question: “If you met Jesus, do you think that you would know it was Him?”. “What?” I asked. “Yeah,” he continued, “if He was in some way unrecognizable, do you think that you would take the time to listen or help out while you’re right in the middle of something or rushing through your day? Would you take the time to talk with someone who just needed someone to talk to?”.
Okay, this was totally not a fair question, especially coming from a guy who basically has an unlimited supply of patience and has dived head first into every volunteer position possible within our church since arriving in December. Alright, not every position, but he seriously could be a saint. He KNOWS that my level of patience is probably one of my worst qualities. I time everything. Absolutely everything. I don’t know if it’s a competitive thing for me, or what, but I’m always on a schedule. Going into a grocery store with Geoff is a patience exercise for me in itself. You see, he makes friends with anyone. He not only is an easy talker, but an even better listener. He makes new best friends at Costco while I’m just standing there like, seriously?! We are NEVER going to get out of here and most importantly, we are definitely not going to beat my record 11.24 minutes from last weekend!! When I go shopping on my own, I literally put my head down, bolt from aisle to aisle as fast as humanly possible, and never veer from my meticulously pre-planned grocery store road map (of course keeping in mind all of the best sample locations). I have a problem, I know.
As the evening went on, I continued mulling over Geoff’s question. It really struck me. If Jesus truly visited me in some sort of unrecognizable capacity, would I even notice? Or am I too busy looking at myself, MY goals, MY dreams, MY time-table for everything to even realize something or someone right in front of me needing my attention.
I think that his question could potentially be valid for anyone. We all have interests, hobbies, passions, or obsessions that may take a little bit too much of our focus away from those God has placed right in front of us.
What if when that one person who irks you more than anyone else says something absurd and all you want to do is slingshot a cutting remark back at them, you instead pause. You think about this person as a human being who, just like yourself, has a multitude of problems, frustrations, and stress and you realize that maybe they could really use a word of kindness instead. Or maybe saying nothing at all would be the most appropriate response all together.
I am chief of sinners when it comes to nonchalantly asking someone how they are without really thinking about how they are going to answer. I was caught off guard one Sunday morning as I asked this of someone. The gentleman paused and looked at me and just said, “not well”. Of course, that was not the answer I was looking for and honestly, not the answer I wanted! But how SELFISH of me. Of course, I am not saying that we should never check in with one another to see how things are going, but I’m talking about being intentional. Maybe I should learn how to seriously take the time to listen, take the time to talk and know the difference of when to do one over the other.
Who in your life needs your presence? Who in your life may benefit from you making some sort of compromise in your own comfort in order to better reach them? Helping people is messy and awkward. It involves discomfort on our part. It is inconvenient.
Are you capable of leaving a life of cushion for a life of discomfort? Truthfully, the answer is no. On our own, we really are not capable of anything. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit is always at work in our lives, in our hearts, and in our minds. My prayer for us all is that He will continually show us where He wants us to go, whom He wants us to serve, and how He wants us to listen and to speak.
Maybe instead of constantly asking God for clues to the next “big adventure” in our lives which will magically make us feel worthwhile or validated, let’s just start living! And I mean really LIVING! Begin looking around at others and their needs. Focus on preferences of those around you. Take the time to really listen! Speak to someone that God has placed right in front of you! I’ll bet you that God will do something amazing and you won’t even realize it until you are right in the very middle of it! Happy LIVING!
Hebrews 13:2- Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.
Philippians 1:6 - And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Romans 8:28 - And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
I Corinthians 12:27 - Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
Emily came from San Diego, California and joined the Shepherd of the Hills staff in 2017. She graduated with her undergraduate degree and DPM certification in music from Concordia University, Irvine and is currently working on her masters degree in choral conducting at Concordia University, Wisconsin.