Category Archives: Compassion

The Touch of His Hand

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This past week has been one long blur, resulting in a combination of medicines and my body’s need for healing sleep.  At times, I was so miserable that all I could do is lay still trying to avoid my progressively worsening cough.  I couldn’t breathe.  Literally, I couldn’t get the air I was in taking to filter to my lungs.  The Dr. said I had asthma induced bronchitis.  Nice to know, I guess, but I just wanted to feel better.  From experience, I knew that it would not take long until the miracle of modern medicine would work it’s magic and I would soon be back to good health.  I did let my mind wander to the days of pre-medicine though, and tried to imagine what it would have been like for many who, experiencing the same type of sickness I have just suffered, had no hope for cure. Perhaps they had access to medicinal herbs or lived close to one of the major cities where some sort of medical knowledge might have been helpful, but for the most part, there was no known cure for many of today’s common illnesses.

I then let my mind journey even farther back through time, to the days when the streets of Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jerusalem and Judea were nothing but tired and worn trails of dust. They were also the only way that the cities of Israel were connected to each other. More than likely, caravans carrying wares to be sold in the market along with travelers making their way throughout the countryside could be seen on these streets on any given day. Another guaranteed sight, if one were to be walking the streets outside of any of the cities of Israel when Herod reigned in Judea on behalf of Rome, would be the various people for whom illness had driven them outside the city gates. In order to keep the greater populace living inside the confines of the city walls safe and healthy, those people having contracted leprosy, tuberculosis or other forms of highly contagious diseases were forced to find refuge along the highway or catacombs outside the city. The chronically ill were additionally forced to cry the word ‘unclean’ to passerbys so that no one might mistakenly come in contact with them. Think of this existence. These poor people were already feeling miserable, had been forced from their homes – in most cases, alone – they had to rely on charity for food, and if that wasn’t enough, also had to announce their uncleanness and unworthiness to all who might pass by them. The physical, mental and emotional toll on these individuals must have been overwhelming.

At some point, during this time period, word of unusual events started spreading throughout the country. For this small window in time, there lived One who might actually be able to help these ostracized folks. Eager to share what they had seen, men, women and children ran from city to neighboring city yelling and crying out the name of Jesus. This name, the wonderfully, powerful name of Jesus fell on the ears of the sick, laying outside the city. Maybe they felt hope and the possibility for a real life again. Maybe they had become so hardened that skepticism was the only emotion they could feel. Regardless of their reception of the news, the fact that something unusual was taking place in Israel could not be escaped. The documented love that Jesus had for the sick can be found in the New Testament eyewitness accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. John even ends his writings by saying in John 21:25, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”

I let my mind wrap around the incredible surge of feeling that might have been felt by those who experienced the actual, physical touch of Jesus. For the outcast living outside the city, this touch meant even more as they had not experienced a touch from anyone in a very long time. No hugs, no handshakes, no pat on the back in passing, they were unclean and unable to be touched. The touch of Jesus not only healed these people permanently from their illness, but it radically changed the course of their life. Take a moment, let your mind roll around the opportunities that presented themselves to the sick through just that one touch by Jesus. As I lay trying to recuperate this past week, I savored the thought of feeling Jesus heal me of my cough. I stand in awe of His power and can only imagine what His personal touch felt like.

I will testify though, that I am better today and I give the credit for my health to only God. The prayers of a few close friends, availed much and I am confident that I felt the touch of God. We do not live during the time that God opened the doorway from heaven and allowed His Son, Jesus, to physically walk the earth. We do, however, live in a time when we, who believe and accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, have His Spirit living in us. Jesus is not here, in person, to minister to the lost and sick, so it is up to us as His ambassadors to take his message to those outside the city gates. If the city is represented by the Church, in our times, then we must leave the safety and confinements of the church and go where the sick, unwanted and unloved live – outside the city gates. As Christians, we can bring the life changing, healing touch of the Master to those who truly need it but have no idea how or where to find Jesus. So many people wander outside the gate. They may not shout the word, ‘unclean,’ but they undoubtably feel unclean. Only those who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb, can ever feel clean and whole.

The world needs the Healing Touch of Jesus! Will you be the hands He uses?
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Mean Girls

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“Mean Girls”…. if you haven’t watched the movie, more than likely you’ve heard of it or at least have a good idea what the plot might reference.  For the most part, human behavior follows a predictable pattern.  As a child, a person is typically loving and trusting.  As a teenager, that same person becomes self-centered and critical of others, almost certainly to the point of mean.  Then, usually during college years, a responsible and consistent adult outlook and actions develop.  There are those few, however, who are and will remain – MEAN. In the movie, a group of teenage girls band together to form an elite (at least in their eyes) group.  They proceed to mock and torture anyone else who does not meet their lofty standards.  Predictably, they turn on each other, disband and the process of maturity begins after feelings have been hurt and consequences have been suffered.  In real life, the same plot plays out in every middle school and high school across America.  Basically, it’s a right of passage that every person participates in, whether they want to or not.  Most people outgrow this stage, but there are those few “mean” girls and boys who never manage to grow up.  It’s always disheartening when you have to interact with these people.  Unfortunately, they live and work among us.  It is an unavoidable, unpleasant experience of life.

Recently, I had the disappointing misfortune to cross paths with a few of these malcontents.  Human nature takes over during moments like this and propels me to levels of great revenge plotting.  Fantasies of lightning bolts flashing from my eyes to zap and torture these “mean” girls run rampant through my mind.  Alternately, deep and gaping holes in my heart weigh me down and crush my spirit.  At some point, in every person’s life, an experience like this will take you by surprise and will come from someone who should have grown up and from whom you least expect this action.  Catty, infantile, mean, hurtful and juvenile are all words that aptly describe these individuals.  In the last couple of years, a person who becomes prey to a ‘mean’ girl or boy is actually labeled a victim of bullying.  The media has ensured public awareness for this growing problem.  Despite this knowledge and labeling, meanness still exists.  We live in an imperfect world with imperfect people, so the only thing we can do is to choose to respond with love and kindness.  This is completely contrary to my first instinct to plot revenge.  In order to repay hatefulness with love, I have to actively choose to die to myself and let Jesus love through me.  If I react in anger, which is that first human instinct, then I not only do not reflect Jesus and His love, I also become a victim, because anger is a self-consuming emotion.  Anger is an active pursuit.  It is not passive, but rather is a driving force of reaction to something perceived as insulting or damaging.  As a Christian, I am called to a higher standard.  Romans 12:2 says that we are “not to conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds.”  It’s not natural, nor is it easy to react to a negative situation with love.  The only way this becomes possible is to have a mind that is focused on Christ.

Think for a moment about Jesus’ three years of ministry on earth.  We have only been given a small glimpse into the activity that took place during these 1095 days.  Over 60% of our known history of Jesus’ actions is based on His healing of other’s hearts and bodies.  The last verse of John says that if all that Jesus did was to be written down, he supposed that there would not be enough books in the world to hold all His activity. This tells me that Jesus loved and He loved a lot.  It’s one thing to say you love someone, but actions are the proof.  Angry people don’t usually help those to whom their anger is directed.  Conversely, someone filled with love is guaranteed to help all.  In the same way that anger is an active emotion, so is love.  If we are to be like Jesus, then we are to love with our mouths and our actions.

Matthew 5:43-44 ~ 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbors and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”

Mark 12:33 ~ “To love Him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

These are the verses that I am focusing on to ingrain the spirit of love in my heart (the renewing of my mind) in hopes that my first reaction to meanness will become love.  I am not quite there, and I am not sure that I will ever get to that level of Christianity, but I strive towards that goal.  I can hear the Apostle Paul cheering me as I run the race, pressing toward that mark.  The finish line is still in the distance where Jesus sits with crowns and trophies and is ready to say, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.”.  I want to be found faithful on that day.  Lord, please help me to love as You have loved me!

Spa Day

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This post makes me a little bit sad and I think you will be sad as well once you have heard this story.  After waiting as long as I could, trust me when I say it was long and overdue, I ventured into my favorite local nail salon this morning. I have been getting manicures and pedicures on occasion for many years and have frequented several different locations, so I feel qualified to say that this salon really ranks with the best.  They are clean, professional, quiet and, based on all of  my experiences, very nice.  That being said, if you have ever visited a nail salon, you know the ethnicity of most of the technicians is Vietnamese.  English is usually not their first language.  Seinfeld had a roaring success of an episode based on the language barrier and the rapid fire conversation that takes place between the workers in their native language followed by the halting English spoken to one of the characters of the show.  That episode is very true to life.  Sometimes, if you close your eyes, you can almost transport yourself to Saigon as the ambience and sounds are so cultural.  I feel fortunate to have grown up in my generation where segregation and racism is not as much of an issue as my parent’s generation faced.  That is not to say that racism  is not something that still needs to be addressed, but from my perspective I don’t see race as a defining trait but rather a part of someone that is unique and interesting.  This will be important in a minute.

Today was busy at the nail salon.  Every nail station and pedicure chair was full and technicians were working with multiple clients.  Next to a dentist, I can’t think of many other jobs that I would not want to perform.  Washing feet for a living just does not sound like fun.  The ladies who work at the salon, though, are always cheerful, joyful and diligent.  These are hard workers!  They typically open at 9am, after driving an hour in traffic, work through lunch and stay until 9pm or later only to drive back home and take care of their families.  The pay is not fantastic and from my observations, tips are not that great either. I like to people watch so having to wait is not a frustrating thing for me to do if my feet are soaking in hot, soapy water and I am sitting in a chair that massages my back.  As a matter of fact, this is one of the main reasons I go to the salon.  There is nothing like this experience and I always hope for a delay to extend my stay.  This morning, I had a coffee in one hand and a magazine in the other while I enjoyed some quiet time, interrupted only by sincere apologies from my manicurist for being too slow.  Despite my reassurances, she persisted in begging forgiveness.  It was not long after this encounter, that one of the owners walked up and thanked me for being so nice to his sister.  I had never talked to him before and really was not sure what he was talking about in the first place.  Then he continued speaking and I am quite certain that I will not soon forget his words.  He said that his family escaped from Vietnam when they were little and children were being taken from their homes during the days of the Vietnam conflict.  He has not seen his parents since that time.  They came to America, where they lived in a community and managed to take care of each other.  They could not attend school as they did not speak English but rather worked to support their “village”.   They are able to learn English now as their children attend school and come home to share their education with the adults.  He said that most people do not have patience and are either mean or rude to them about the language barrier.  He said that often his sister cries because women are so hateful to her.  He then said that she always remembers me because I have been nice to her and take time to ask about her and her family.  Wow!  I was not expecting this type of conversation this morning or really, anytime.  I am ashamed to say that I am not always patient or nice and immediately wondered how many people I might have hurt in the past on account of my frustration or irritation because a conversation did not go the way I anticipated it should.  It’s so easy to have an entitled feeling.  I am not sure why as I am certainly no better than any other person that I may encounter.  This applies to shoppers in the grocery, other patrons at the DMV or even to family members.  God is no respecter of persons.  Matthew 23:11, and subsequently all the other 3 Gospels, states that “if we want to be first, then we must be servants to all.”  This is pretty self-explanatory language.  I have no right to esteem myself higher than any other person and actually am not acting as a Christian if I am not serving others.  This does not translate to literally mopping floors as a slave but rather the motives and actions of my heart toward others.

I felt my heart break a little this morning thinking of how difficult it must be to come to a place where you know no one, speak not the local language and further receive treatment that is hostile and unwarranted when you are literally washing the feet of those who are so mean.  Sound familiar?  Yup, to me also.  Jesus felt this way on my account.  He teaches me lessons all the time in ways that make it ever apparent to my finite mind how much He loves me.  How can I not be a reflection of Him to others I encounter.  This is my daily prayer, “Lord, make me like you!”  Today I also added a prayer for my “nail girl” and asked God to help me continue to share His love with her.

Tuesday Traffic

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You would think that Tuesday traffic would be better than Monday traffic, but you would be wrong.  My take on this theory is that drivers save their Monday frustration for Tuesday in hopes that other drivers used their road rage on Monday thus giving them the home court advantage.  Whatever the reason, Tuesday traffic is like the terrible twos.  It’s loud, annoying and frustrating.  There is some good take away from this unavoidable time slot though and for me it is the “me” time.  I have almost uninterrupted time to pick my own radio stations or to, my kids would be mortified, just listen to silence.  This morning I was distracted and ended up sitting through the same traffic light for two cycles so it gave me time to observe the pedestrians and other drivers adjacent to me.  Maybe fate orchestrated this opportunity.  I recognized my own irritation mirrored in the expression of most of the people I saw but I caught the eye of one particular man on a bicycle.  He was not like me.  His clothes were dirty, his hair uncombed, greasy and long.  He looked tired and sad and completely like someone that I would not want to sit next for any extended period of time.  This was a complete chance encounter and I doubt I will ever see him again but I believe that God allowed this scene to act out in front of me.  The radio was playing Casting Crowns and I happened to catch the lyrics to this new and unfamiliar song just at this moment.  “No one knows what we’re for only against when we judge the wounded.”  In that quick space of time, I felt as if God had singled me out to tell me that I was not like Him.  It was a needed reminder that I am no better than anyone else and have no more rights than anyone else.  I need to be reaching out instead of closing myself off.  I see a lot of smiling Christians in church but, yet, the same Christians shield their eyes and guard their hearts in a different setting.  I am ashamed to say that I frequently do the same.  My intentions are always to be reaching out but I typically fall short of those goals and stay to myself instead.

As I continue on my journey to “know” Jesus, it occurs to me that the best way to know Him is to be a friend to sinners in the same way He was – and they are everyone.  “For all have sinned and come short of the Glory of God,” Romans 3:23.

This was my Tuesday traffic adventure.  Share yours!

Walk This Way

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2 Corinthians 5:7
“for we walk by faith, not by sight” NASB

It seems as if most of my moments for deep thinking come while I am driving in the morning.  Today was no exception.  I rounded the corner adjacent to the subdivision I live in to see a blind person, using a white cane and crossing the walkway in the intersection.  My first thought placed me in my son’s bedroom a while back, where we spent a great deal of time studying for his drivers license test.  I had been quizzing him relentlessly so that he had a better chance of passing the dreaded written test that had a track record of claiming previous classmates and forcing humiliating retakes.  We came to a section that pertained to right of way for the blind.  In all my years of driving, I have never seen this played out to where it would become necessary to know this rule.  I told him that his odds for ever encountering this situation were probably 1000:1.  We breezed over that question and, as the luck of the unprepared would have it, this question was on the test.  Fortunately, my son had prepared well in all other areas and scored high enough to pass.  (No thanks to his mother….)

The traffic light was long this morning, maybe by Divine design, giving me the ability to watch this woman make her away across the street.  She seemingly was not upset that she had to travel in this manner, she actually looked content and quite happy.  This brought the second thought that swished around my mind in to play.  Am I like this woman?  I have eyes to see here in the natural but clearly have no seeing capability into the supernatural.  Therefore, I am handicapped in a similar manner.  Is it better to have sight in the here and now of everyday or is it more beneficial to have strong Spiritual eyesight?  Obviously, if I can, I would like to have both and feel truly blessed and thankful to say that, indeed, I do.  In the same manner as my everyday walks that find me sadly lacking in perceptive eyesight (and coordination) where I frequently trip, fall or run into furniture (it would be funny if it was not so painful), I find myself in the same Spiritual situation.  Just as I make a discovery that brings me closer to my Savior, I often trip over my own pride or fall into a pit of superiority.  Only then am I able to see that I tried to walk on my own rather than use the assistance of the One who guides and guards my steps.  I am quick to speak (red head syndrome) but often I do not choose to”fix His words in my heart and mind” (Deut 11:18, NIV) which only causes me to be a source of pain for someone else.  I am definitely speedy Gonzalez  running to share advice or or be the first to share bad news (I do so dislike this trait in others) but fail to seek the wisdom of the One who holds the future and can turn all things to good for his children.  What is wrong with me???  These are the times that show how blindly I walk in this world where all is not what we see.  “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places,” Ephesians 6:12.

I made a resolution to purposely put on the Armor of God each morning as I venture out into the crosswalks of life.  I may still have limited eyesight but by holding His hand, watching where I walk and staying close to His side I will have a much better walk than I do on my own.