Road Trip: Delivering the News

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If you follow me on social media, you know that with summer and its longer days, the wandering has commenced. My husband and I made our way east via the road less traveled . . . literally. This year, we chose to take The Loneliest Highway across the country to see what we could see. U.S. Route 50 comes by its name honestly. Much of the way, we and the locals were the only ones using it. Cars were few and far between.

That was okay with us. We liked the slower pace it provided. We saw beautiful country. There was also a bit of history to be found. U.S. 50 was built along the Pony Express route. It was fun to imagine the riders as they charged through the wilderness carrying the mail to people who longed for news. Given the short existence of the Pony Express, it had a lasting impact. Today, small towns dot the landscape where there once was only a stop on the trail.

This legacy of the Pony Express made me think of another story I heard from a friend from India. He told me he is only the third generation Christian in his family. It all started when his grandfather, the community’s witch doctor, met Jesus. With news too good to keep to himself, he wanted everyone to know so he took the message on the road, traveling from town to town, delivering the story of Jesus. Today, in each place he stopped there is an active church among its people.

In this busy life with our lives consumed with tasks for today, I wonder how often we think about what will have a lasting impression on our world. Will our actions today bring benefit to others in the future?

There is a story in the Bible about a time when Jesus told his disciples to set sail for a region called Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee. There He had an encounter with a demon-possessed man from the town who had lived rough for many years due to his condition. The long and short of the story is that Jesus healed the guy and restored him back into the community. You can read it for yourself in Luke 8:26-39. When Jesus was ready to depart, the man begged to go with him, but Jesus had something better in mind. He urged the man to return home and tell how much God had done. (Luke 8:39)

That is exactly what the man did.

He “went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.” I may have chosen to go with Jesus and get a new start for myself, but he was obedient and did as Jesus told him. We do not know if he could have anticipated or even knew later what kind of impact his life had on his community, but we have the full story. This particular miracle of healing was the first in Gentile territory, a region called the Decapolis. Sometime later, Jesus did return and a crowd of 4000 came out to see Him. (The story is found in Matthew 15:29-31 and Mark 8:1-10.) Jesus repeated the miracle of healing, again and again, restoring “the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others.” (Matthew 15:30) Did these people come because of the story they had heard about the guy whose life was changed by Jesus? I like to think it was.

So, what impact are we having in the world around us?

Are we like the transformed witch doctor who carried the news of Jesus to other communities, resulting in churches being established? Or maybe like the man from Gerasenes who just shared his story with the neighbors. At the time, I’m sure neither of these men had any idea that their words would bring thousands to the feet of Jesus. The legacy that belongs to them is great, but ours can be too. We must take what we know about Jesus and make it known to the world around us. These men were not great theologians with exemplary training and a huge following. They were just common individuals who took what they had been given—a relationship with Jesus—and told others. It made an impact and continues to do so, especially if we now take their example to heart. How much of the world will be changed simply because we carried the Good News and delivered it? Only time will tell.

Share Jesus.
Change the world.

 


Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!
Anne Frank

 

When Helping Hurts

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What do you do when helping hurts?

I have been faced with that question recently. No matter what I did in the situation, my ‘help’ was just prolonging the hurt. When I considered withholding my help, guilt came, bringing with it a flood of ‘what ifs” to my brain. “What would Jesus do” kept me second guessing my role. I felt helpless going forward and hopeless looking back. There was no consolation, only misery.

Still, what do you do when helping hurts?

In my case, I had to decide to let go of the situation, understanding it probably would grow worse. Heartbreaking when it is a loved one. Not an easy task. I struggled to keep my resolve. Keeping your hands off while keeping your heart engaged isn’t an easy thing to do. I can certainly attest to that, but the thing I had to realize is that God deeply loved this person and had a plan for them.

It’s possible that I was in the way. My helping was keeping their eyes on me and not allowing God to take center stage. This may be where the verse “For I know the plans I have for you” — this is the Lord’s declaration — “plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11‬ ‭HCSB‬‬ comes in. ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

The verse itself has nothing to do with rescue the way we would like it to mean, but rather growing us up through trials. I guess you can look it as strength training. In the case of the situation I was interfering with, my strength was being proven. I was also taking on the other person’s portion of the trial and doing all the heavy lifting, effectively blocking him from growing stronger. In my crusade to help, it was actually doing them a disservice. In the end, they would not be able to stand up against adversity. They simply would not have the muscles to do so.

Romans 5:2 talks about the same thing saying, “we boast in the hope of the glory of God. But not only that, we also glory in our sufferings.” Why? Because they give us a future and a hope. Through our suffering, perseverance is produced. Perseverance produces character, and character, hope. (Romans 5:4) With hope, we can stand in strength against whatever comes our way. Isn’t this what we want our struggling loved ones to possess?

So, what do we do when helping hurts?
  • Step aside and let them grow strong.
  • Be the one who allows the work to happen in their life.
  • And pray, pray, pray. Everyone needs a cheerleader.‬ ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.
Romans 12:12


 

Note: There has been no change that I can detect in the situation. God’s timing and a softened heart will need to align with each other. I am always reminded of do not “grow weary of doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” I will continue to pray and offer encouragement where appropriate and watch for God who sees all things and loves all of us deeply to work out the details.

Generously Sow

https://pattyschell.com/2017/09/30/generously-sow-2/
I fed a homeless guy last night. His name was Edward.

It isn’t unusual for me to feed someone I see that might be hungry. Maybe it’s because my mamma taught me it was impolite to eat in front of others, though I don’t really know if that applied in this situation, since Edward was sitting alone on the dirty curb, and I would eat my meal at a nice clean table surrounded by a large group of people who were laughing and chatting with each other. It doesn’t really matter, but I think the reason I fed him was because God placed him in my path to feed and so I did.

A passage found at the end of Deuteronomy 24 talks about making provision for the foreigner, fatherless, and the widow from the excess we find in our own “fields”. It is just one passage out of nearly 100 found in the Bible that address our responsibility toward caring for the poor. One thing I would also like to point out, it doesn’t say those who are rich be generous. It makes a statement to us all no matter where we find ourselves economically. If you have a “field” big or small God’s talking to you.

I have found that the most generous people are actually the ones who can afford it least. I’ve seen those who had very little of their own divide and share what they had with someone else in need. A few years ago, I worked with a small church in one of the poorest areas near my home. We ran a midweek children’s service with singing, games, and stories. At the end of the evening, we fed the children supper along with some home baked cookies. Every single time they would ask if there was enough to take home. Some refused to eat what we offered so they could carry it to a mom or dad, grandparent or sibling who was not in attendance. I can just see them running into their houses making their little offering to whoever was there, becoming givers themselves.

Giving is a simple matter really,

but it’s no small thing. Even though each of us may only have the capacity to make a momentary difference in the life of one, man, woman or child—it is still worth the effort. It adds up. Most of us have more to offer than we think. A hamburger, a smile, a dollar or two, a moment of your time to give recognition. God has placed what others need in our “field” so we get to be generous and practice love. It grows us up a little more into the image of His Son who gave everything.

The feeling you get when you follow through with God’s will in your life is exhilarating and makes you want to do more, give more, love more. I can’t describe it. You just have to experience it for yourself. And in case you didn’t realize, caring for the poor is God’s will for everyone–you, me, everyone. Remember he says it nearly 100 times.

After my encounter with Edward, I thought about him all the way home and prayed for his life. Would he always be homeless? Would he someday have a wife? Children? He was a very young man. Where was his family? His parents? His siblings? Would he make it through the cold night? Would he know Jesus just a little more because someone fed him a hamburger and asked him his name? Only God knew the answers. What I do know for sure, that night, Edward’s name was in God’s ears and on His mind.

. . . whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
2 Corinthians 9:6

All Washed Up

girlonadventure.com

When we pulled into the truck wash, a group of tattooed, bandana toting, life-lived-hard men descended on our truck and travel trailer. Brushes in hand, they worked vigorously, scrubbing every inch of its surface. Water sprayed, soapy bubbles cleaned, and the mud ran off. They made quick work of the dirty job.

It’s good to start out clean, don’t ya think? We are off on an adventure of uncharted waters. Newly retired, my husband and I are going to start with a bit of wandering across the countryside seeing things we have never seen. Perhaps it’s a bit symbolic to start this new phase of our lives clean, shedding of the layers of the old life’s demands that don’t belong on this journey.

This reminds of another fresh start,

a new beginning that would change my life forever. I decided to ask Jesus to save me from my sin. My initial decision, if the truth be known, was made because I recognized if hell was real, I didn’t want to go there. It was a start that allowed me to travel into a new life that would take me places I never imagined.

One thing that is not lost on me is the fact that there were a bunch of people in my life with scrub brushes in their hands. I know that it is Jesus who provided the forgiveness of my sins by His death and resurrection, but there were many who prayed, encouraged, and taught me along the way. They had hard-life experience and knew how to lead a wayward, teenaged girl to Jesus. I thank God that they did.

There is a story in the Bible in Mark 2 . . .

about some friends who would not let their friend go on with his usual life. You see, he was paralyzed and unable to do anything different than live his paralyzed life. The friends were not having it. They knew he needed healing, so they loaded him up on a stretcher and delivered him to Jesus. It was no easy task. Before the night was over, the man’s faithful friends would need to claw their way through a roof to get him face-to-face with Jesus. I imagine their bloody hands and knees were forgotten when their friend was forgiven and healed. It had all been worth the effort.

This story is one I learned in Sunday School as a kid. I have always pictured four friends carrying their buddy off to see Jesus, but the text actually says, “Some men came, bringing to him (Jesus) a paralyzed man, carried by four of them.” This was a lucky man to have friends that cared so much.

If you have been following me on Facebook or Twitter,

you have seen that I have been encouraging people to do something meaningful to change the world. This falls into that category. When was the last time you prayed for a friend to find Jesus? Most of us have a list of those who we know that need to have a face-to-face with Jesus but they are paralyzed and can’t get to Him. Are you willing to risk some bloody hands and knees to change their lives? It was because of the friends’ faith the man was forgiven and ultimately healed. Don’t waste any more time. Get the stretcher and haul your friends to Jesus.

“Some men came, bringing to him (Jesus) a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’”

Mark 2:3-5 NIV


Who do you know of that took the time to bring you to Jesus?

I have a list of the ones I suspect were instrumental in getting me into Jesus’ presence. I have been thanking them when I can for their faithfulness to changing the world for this once rebellious and unruly teenager. If anyone needed a good scrubbing, I did.

Check out this post about the benefits of showing gratitude—Navigating Customs: Give Thanks

 


 

“Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in faith, just as you were taught, overflowing with gratitude.” Colossians 2:6-7 NIV