Open Our Eyes, Lord

Back in March, I was in a pretty scary car accident. It shook me up badly enough that I never posted on social media about it. I didn’t take a selfie with the paramedics, police officers and firemen who all showed up. There were no passive aggressive tweets about people using their phones and running red lights. I was just thankful that all five of my children who were in the car with me came home that day. I have lived long enough to know that is not always how these things turn out.

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For quite a few weeks, I was really angry with the other person. I could still hear the sound of her hitting me at 45 mph and the screams of my children as our car was knocked sideways. I was furious that I was suddenly fearful every time I got in my car. But that isn’t the feeling that lingered.

I also felt extremely grateful that a witness stopped and waited for an officer to arrive. She confirmed that I had not done anything wrong. I knew, otherwise, it would be a he said / she said situation and those are never fun. Even that feeling, however, faded.

Then, as the days went by, I was anxious all the time. It suddenly occurred to me that I could do everything right… Now, I’m not speaking of moral perfection or anything of the sort. Only that I could do everything I was supposed to do at that moment. I could obey the traffic signals, stay in my own lane, be completely undistracted. Yet, even then, in the blink of an eye, things could go terribly wrong. Thankfully, the anxiety has also lessened.

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What I’m left with, ten weeks later, is the memory of one particular individual. And it’s not the person who hit me or the witness who lingered to help.

As I sat there, in the middle of a major intersection trying to get my wrecked vehicle out of the way with a crying 3-year-old and other scared children and trying to put the pieces together and figure out what exactly happened, someone sped past me and blew his horn. He blew his horn at me and waved his hands in frustration because I was in his way.

Because I was in. his. way.

As if, friends, I was lingering in the middle of the intersection and blocking oncoming traffic for fun. As if that was how I envisioned my day going.

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I couldn’t stop thinking about him and wondering, “How often do I do that?” How often do I come across someone who has experienced trauma and all I can see is how it may inconvenience me. Do I see people in bad situations and think they must want to be there?

That man did not see women and children who had just been in an accident and who were in shock. He saw a random car blocking his entrance into Starbucks and it annoyed him. He didn’t see the situation for what it truly was.

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In 2 Kings 6:16-20, there is a battle taking place. On two separate occasions, Elisha prays that the Lord would open the eyes of the people involved so that they may see the situation as it truly was.

Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” 2 Kings 6:17

Elisha said, “O Lord, open the eyes of these men…” 2 Kings 6:20

This has been my prayer in recent days – that the Lord would open my eyes to the hurts and needs around me. That I would truly see the people.

That person who stops to talk to you as you’re leaving the church? Just maybe they’re more important than being first to the buffet.

The lady sitting alone at that group event? Perhaps, you should take your introverted self over and sit with her.

That guy who has found himself in the pit again? He’s not there for fun.

Open our eyes, Lord. Forgive me for the times I have passed someone in pain and threw my hands up in annoyance because I was more concerned with my latte than with loving my neighbor.

You are loved. ❤

 

 

 

How to Claim Your Community for Christ

It doesn’t matter what your community looks like. Perhaps you live in a gated community. Maybe it’s a farming community. You could have been born and raised there or you could be new in town. It could be that you love where you live or not.  None of that really matters.

When the children of Israel were in exile, God had a word for them on how they were to conduct themselves. Keep in mind that this was definitely not home for them and they didn’t want to be there.

Seek the welfare of the city I have deported you to. Pray to the Lord on its behalf, for when it has prosperity, you will prosper. (Jeremiah 29:7 HCSB)

We are to love our communities. We are to seek the welfare of the places God has placed us. Here are three ways we can claim our communities for Christ.

A – Accept that unbelievers are going to act like unbelievers.

Seriously, friends, can we stop acting appalled and clutching our pearls when those who don’t know Christ act unChristlike? It is not our job to play the Holy Spirit. We will never guilt someone into accepting God’s grace.

I live in a community filled to overflowing with people struggling with brokenness. Many of them cling to the very thing that brings them pain, not because it’s fun, but because it’s familiar. They are afraid to pursue something different because what if, in the end, this really is all that life has to offer? Let’s be honest; that’s a real possibility.

Claiming our communities for Christ may just mean engaging someone who uses language we wouldn’t use. It most likely means getting to know someone who looks, thinks or acts quite differently from us. We have to get to know them so that they can get to know Him.

B – Be present in your community.

Let me be clear. I am an introvert’s introvert. I could, quite happily, spend the vast majority of my time in my home. Crowds make me nervous and, quite honestly, strangers make me anxious. So, when we moved to a small community about a year ago, I was nervous. New people. New places. New opportunities for rejection.

I am surrounded by poverty, addiction and a multitude of things I can’t fix. It has caused a lot of frustration for me. I don’t always understand what I’m doing here. Then, a couple weeks ago, I felt the Lord calm my spirit and say, “You’re over thinking this. I just want you to be present.”

I had to ask myself, “If I were to leave this community tomorrow, will my presence have made a difference?” I’m choosing to be present. I have scheduled checking my mailbox around when I knew a certain person walked by my house so that I could meet her. I made chocolate covered strawberries and delivered them to some ladies in town. I plan my walks around the neighborhood to pass by those folks I know will be sitting on their porches or in their yards. I’ve had neighborhood children into my home and baked birthday cakes for their mamas.

They’re small things, but not really.

C – Casseroles, Cakes, and Cookies, oh my!

Scripture tells us that love covers a multitude of sins. I’m here to tell you that so does cream of chicken soup. You take love and a good casserole and you have an opening into almost anyone’s life.

Look around your community. Who haven’t you met? Who, ahem, have you purposely not met? There isn’t any judgment here, friends. I have a list of people and a list of recipes. I’m setting a goal to meet some of them and I’m bringing food with me. A chocolate chip cookie never offended anyone. If you don’t believe me, you need to make these.

 

They’re divine; don’t forget to take some to that person on your list. I’m convinced that food, fellowship, and friendship are essential to claiming our communities for Christ.

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What have you done in your community?

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You are loved. ❤

Stacy

 

A Silent S.O.S.

On Saturday, a little girl from Florida was kidnapped. As a mama of a little girl the same exact age, size and general appearance, it left a knot in my stomach. I watched the updates and received the Amber Alert that she had been spotted in Tennessee. I watch the three-minute surveillance video taken at a McDonald’s and, I’ll be honest, it was hard to watch.

As the little girl and her abductor stood at the counter, numerous people walked up beside them. Folks ordered cheeseburgers and probably complained that the pickles weren’t removed while standing inches from a child who desperately needed to be rescued. I couldn’t help but wonder if anyone viewed that video and saw themselves standing so incredibly close to that poor child but completely unaware.

Thankfully, that little girl was rescued; sadly, many are not.

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It made me think of the people I walk by on a daily basis. How often am I within inches of someone – in my neighborhood, workplace, grocery store, family gathering – who desperately needs to be rescued? As I go about my life, doing mundane tasks and complaining about inane things, are the people around me hurting and pleading for someone to notice?

At one point in that surveillance video, a woman walked behind the little girl and I wanted to scream, “She’s right there!” How often, as we go through our day, does God want to scream at us, “She’s right there!” He puts us right where He wants us and we don’t even notice that one of His children are in danger.

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In my neighborhood, there is one woman that crosses my path multiple times a week. We nod, smile and exchange benign greetings, but something in my spirit tells me that I’m supposed to go deeper. I could ignore the nudging or produce a dozen excuses as to why I should just let well enough alone.

I’m such an introvert.

What would I say?

She doesn’t look like me.

What if she thinks I’m a weirdo?

But then it always comes back to the one question I can’t ignore.

What if she needs to be rescued?

So, I see her walking down our street and I try to casually stand by the road. I turn to her as she passes and I introduce myself. She laughs and nods, “I know. You’re the pastor’s wife,” and we both giggle. She calls me ma’am more than once and I pretend she’s just being polite and it’s not because I’m probably fifteen years older than her.

It’s a very short conversation and she’s on her way. But now, when she walks by my house, I wave and call her by name. She smiles and waves back. She knows that she is seen by me and it’s the foundation for something more.

Look around you. Be aware. You never know who is in need of rescue.

You are loved. ❤