It all began the day I received a phone call from my 21 year old son. He had just completed a “poverty simulation” weekend. He had spent 3 days in the streets of Chicago “homeless.” As he shared with me stories of those he’d met and the God-encounters he experienced, I wept. I hung up the phone and couldn’t sleep. I began to think of all the opportunities I’d spent a lifetime missing because I had never taken the time to enter the world of ones who didn’t look like me or live like me. You see, so often I had made assumptions based on others’ circumstances. I had decided I knew their story, even though I’d never taken the time to hear their story. And so began a journey, a life-altering journey, a God-journey.
Throughout scripture, we see Jesus taking the time to stop. To stop and listen, to stop and see, to stop and love. In fact, Jesus’ entire life was spent for others. He crossed the road and stepped into the world of the forgotten, the lonely, the invisible. He took time when others passed by. He loved without agenda. Jesus modeled a life of outreach. He modeled a life committed to the “one”…the woman at the well, the adulteress, blind Bartimaus.
We can never underestimate the impact a moment can have. I’ve seen the love of God experienced through a bag of groceries, a bottle of water, a box of diapers. I’ve seen a 57 year old man break down and cry because someone took the time to look him in the eye and say “I believe in you.”
Those divine encounters have the power to change not only those we serve, but us as well. Since being involved in outreach at The Life Church, I have received so much more than I’ve given. I have met new friends and shared life with those who have an amazing voice but no platform from which to be heard. I’ve learned lessons from the mouth of God spoken through the lips of a child. And, I am learning to love…to really love. To listen without an agenda, to hold on no matter how difficult and messy, to lift up no matter how heavy the load because God is our strength.
This journey has and continues to be challenging, exhausting, and overwhelming at times. But I wouldn’t change a thing. The joy of serving and loving others is my reward. And, it all began because my son decided to postpone college for the privilege of living among the poor. It all began because he decided the “one” was worth it.
As so I leave you with this. “If any of you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, by having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Philippians 1:1-2