“Lord, please give me wisdom for this situation, help me to know what You would have me to do.”
I cannot tell you how many times (sometimes a day) I have prayed a similar prayer to this as I go out the front door to answer the “tao po” from a caller outside. Oft times it is somebody wanting a flashlight battery charged up, or asking to borrow a bucket or a spade or to get something photocopied or to ask for an empty jar. It is often nothing too serious and in the midst of it I am glad to have a chat with the caller, share a cup of coffee or simply get them what they need and on they go. Home to cook their rice, off to a meeting for the parents at the school, back to work in the fields or back home to move their water buffalo out of the heat.
However sometimes a situation comes up and I wonder how do I help? When should I help? We need so much wisdom from the Lord to know the correct way to deal with things. I have made mistakes in this area, sometimes helping too much, which has caused more problems for the person I was trying to help when others in the village get jealous or complain they are taking advantage of us etc. Sometimes I feel I haven’t helped enough and then there are times that I have helped in the wrong way. Maybe by lending instead of giving, but then if the person is not able to “pay me back” it causes embarrassment and they avoid us by not coming to church or to the Bible Study. Sometimes it is better to give work to help somebody out, or to see if there is a different avenue of help from a local government association, but even this too can get complicated and requires a lot of follow up. I don’t take lightly these “small decisions” knowing that they are often “big decisions” in the end. (I hope I am not misunderstood as I write this, a lot of these “complications” are to do with cultural differences that would take a lot of time to explain.)
Over the past month though I have to say my heart has been greatly challenged in this area. So much so that I decided to do a study on compassion and look specifically at how the Lord dealt with people while He was here on this earth. My heart has been soaking up the times that the Lord stopped with an individual, noticed the needy, the poor, the neglected, the forgotten, the ugly, the proud, the sinful, He was no respecter of persons. He could see through the lies, He knew the truth, and yet it never stopped Him from looking at the person. Kind eyes meet desperate ones and a story has a new beginning.
As I was reading last week in my devotions these verses simply leaped off the page to me. Matthew 25: 34-40.
“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
“Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me, you did it to me”
Max Lucado has this to say in his book “Out Live Your Life”.
“There are many reasons to help people in need. Compassion has a dozen advocates. But for the Christian, none is higher than this: when we love those in need, we are loving Jesus. It is a mystery beyond science, a truth beyond statistics. But it is a message that Jesus made crystal clear: when we love them, we love Him.
As I sat reading this on the balcony of our house that morning, tears fell. I was over looking the village and the little houses, the rice fields were people were working. I thought of the times when I passed by a person because I was overwhelmed with their problem, I overlooked a child in need because “I can’t help them all”. I had guarded my heart when the Lord wants me to open it, to give it all to Him and to let Him love through me. To let me love Him as I love others. I asked the Lord to forgive my short sightedness and I thanked Him for His ever timely conviction that changes our hearts for His glory.
The Lord didn’t show me that morning that I need to supply the needs of every person with a difficult situation, or give money and belongings to every person that comes to my door. No, but He showed me that I need to look, listen, love, give and gently and lovingly point people to Him.
Max Lucado goes on to say, “None of us can help everyone. But all of us can help someone, And when we help them, we serve Jesus.”
It has been “eye opening” for me to realize the ways that I can show love to these dear people that the Lord has so graciously allowed me to be here amongst. In verses 42 and 43 the actions taken are simple; giving water, feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, inviting someone in, visiting the imprisoned, noticing the forgotten. Small, simple actions done in love to serve Jesus. This is not about starting big programs or giving handouts to the masses, it is about loving Jesus as he brings situations and people across our path. This past week it prompted me to spend my only evening alone (the night I usually blog), with a friend who had a problem, just listening. It meant printing out a photo of a happy memory for a little girl who is being teased by her classmates, it meant bringing some healthy carrot muffins to a family that has been told all their kids are malnourished. What is interesting is, I see no immediate change in their situation, I don’t know how God is working in their hearts, but I do know how He is working in mine. I feel like I am seeing some people as if for the first time. I have shed more tears in this past month over the hurts and trials of the people here than I probably have in the past 6 years. I grieve for the times when I was so busy to notice the lonely, the downcast and the hopeless. I regret the times I have handed out medicine to the sick and yet I failed to touch, to hold and to smile. I thank the Lord for opening my eyes afresh to the people in my life. I want to make a difference for HIM.
This post is getting too long (yet again) but I will share a photo with you and ask you to pray. This is the “forgotten” the “overlooked” the “ignored” the “needy” that the Lord brought to my house on Saturday at lunch time. As a mother climbed the steps to our house with a baby wrapped in a cloth, I prayed “Lord give me wisdom to know how to help. ‘ She said her little one had a cough and needed medicine, I asked her if I could have a look. She unwrapped the cloth from the baby in her arms and this is the little one that looked in my eyes. There are no words to describe what I felt in this moment.
I will maybe write the full story of this little one another time. But for now I will give these details. The baby is a little boy, born premature, is now 2 months old and weighs around 3lbs. The mother has tried to get help but so far all she has gotten is vitamins for the baby. She is the neighbor of the family of the little boy who died that I wrote about a few weeks ago.
As the mother and I sat and talked on our balcony, I watched as she held and cared for her little one with the tenderest of care, he is so fragile. She mentioned the things that people have been saying about the baby, some are afraid to even look at him. I felt her hurt, he is her baby and it hurts her deeply when others say things that aren’t kind. As I looked on the tiny little face I felt the Lord prompting me to tell her something positive about her little one, all she has heard about him so far has been negative. I commented on what thick hair the little boy has, her eyes welled up and she said “from the time he was born his hair has been so thick.” She rubbed his little head and smiled.
This story is just beginning. Please pray for God’s will to be done in this situation and for His love to shine through above all else.
Mother and baby. They had walked over an hour to come to our house.
I wrote this post a few days ago, and wondered whether I should post it. (I often write for my own sake more than anything). This morning though at 6.30 I got a call from the local hospital. It was this dear mother who needed to contact me. Her first words were, “Ma’am please help me.” Her little one had died last night at the hospital and she had no way home. There is a jeepney (public form of transport here) that goes to and from the town to our village most days, there are buses, motorbikes and other vans but nobody will take her home, because she has the body of her dead baby with her. They are afraid. There are many superstitions here about dead bodies and all the drivers are afraid to take the mother home in their car, and so she calls us. As I finish this post this morning, Danny and two of the believers are away to the hospital to bring this mother and her little one home so she can bury him. So she can come home to her other children and get the rest she needs. I am so glad to know this little baby is no longer in pain, no longer needing help, he is with Jesus. Please continue to pray for this family, for their salvation. Please pray for us to have wisdom to know yet again, how do we help?