During this Wednesday’s What Not we investigate the consequences of our spiritual blindness. What happens when we don’t see? What happens when we don’t want to see? What happens when we are so wrapped up in our own little world that we are oblivious to others?
Recently, I went to a concert with my husband and some friends. We saw Casting Crowns. Several songs stirred my heart that evening. One song in particular seared, as emotion roiled within. Each time I hear the song, I wonder what might have been. Tears stream down my face. Salt mixed with regret.
Before I share my story, I need to clarify something. This story is not a woe is me sentiment. It’s a wake-up call to you and me.
If you are in a place where you can listen to the song, here it is. It’s called, Does Anybody Hear Her.
When I was sixteen, I stepped across the threshold of a church. I was searching for something. I have pondered what brought me to that place. I wasn’t baptized as a child and I wasn’t raised in the church. The closest I came was periodic visits with my grandparents. Otherwise, faith was virtually non-existent in my life.
Yet, somehow, a sixteen year old girl was seeking spiritual things. She was seeking answers. She was seeking hope and perhaps something different than she had seen or experienced in the reality of her life. I was that girl who was running 100 miles in the wrong direction.
I had already started smoking by that time. In fact, I’d smoke cigarettes on the way to church. I even burned a hole through my dress once while driving. I walked into the sanctuary that morning with my hands clasped in front of myself to cover the hole scorched in my dress.
I had also already given the most precious gift God gives us- ourselves – to someone undeserving. I opened myself up to pain by not remaining pure. In my search for love and acceptance, I gained a scarlet letter. A stain Satan later would have a hay day with as he drove me deeper into sin and despair.
This was the condition I tripped into the church. Certainly, looking back now I can see that God was calling me to Him even then. I must have wanted Him in my life as well.
I went to church every Sunday, all by myself, for a relatively long time. I ended up getting confirmed. Surely, I was there long enough for someone to have noticed me.
Why didn’t they?
I had to have stuck out like a sore thumb. Not many 16 year olds sacrifice a Sunday to attend church without parental prompting. Yet, there I sat. Seemingly unnoticed. Unseen. Insignificant.
The name of the church will remain anonymous. But I wonder what would have happened if someone would have “seen” me at that church. What would life have been like if someone would have “heard” me when I walked through the double doors and sat on the pew, a young person in need of spiritual guidance? A child in search of God should have stood out to someone. Did anybody see me? Did anybody hear me? Did anybody know I was going down and was desperate?
I ask these questions because I know God saw me. I know He was there. Who did He assign me to? Who didn’t listen to Him? Who was so blinded by what was in his or her life that they didn’t see a 16 year old girl who wanted something different for herself? Why else would I have been there?
There are a lot of lost and lonely people in the world. Do we see them? Or are we too busy going 100 miles in the wrong direction that we don’t hear God when He tells us, “Help that one”?
Whoever didn’t hear (or didn’t want to hear) God’s voice during that season when I was seeking spiritual things can’t go back. They don’t get a do-over. I don’t get a do-over for the sin I eventually dove even more deeply into.
God will use those experiences I had. They are now “ministry gifts” that He has given me. He has redeemed me and the mistakes I made along the way. God is a God of full redemption, and that is a beautiful thing.
My point is, maybe I didn’t have to have quite so many “ministry gifts”. What if the person assigned to “see me” would have? Maybe I would have had someone with a strong spiritual background and back bone that could have helped me. Not only would I have been helped. I would not have hurt as many people along the way as I did. I know it. I know it because when we have Jesus in our lives and the deposit of the Holy Spirit, we are guided in the right direction. When we have strong spiritual mentors pointing us to Jesus, God’s Word, and all the beauty He has for us, we live our lives dramatically different than when we don’t know God.
Back then, I desired to know God. I desired something different or I wouldn’t have stepped through the doors of the church. But I had barely been introduced to Him. As soon as Satan saw there was no one to spiritually ground and guide me, I was ripped away. For a time. Quite a long time.
But God has the last word! Satan made a big mistake, because now … I’m pretty passionate about helping others not trip and traipse down the wrong trail. I have plenty of stories to share with God’s daughters about what happens when we don’t follow the heart of God. It can get ugly and I know that full-well. But God makes everything beautiful. He brings beauty from the ashes. I just pray that more of His daughters don’t have to get scorched from the fire of the enemy. It’s unnecessary when we extend the love God asks us to.
There was a young girl in our subdivision who was smoking and hanging out with the wrong crowd. I saw the transition right before my very eyes. She migrated from a sweet, innocent looking young girl to one who already was looking a little worse for the wear her sophomore year. Not only had her attire changed to risqué, I saw boys lurking. The intent exuded danger to one of God’s daughters. I could see she was walking on a slippery slope.
My spirit would get so upset seeing all this play out before my very eyes. Literally, the scene was right below my window. I could see down into the car as the kids parked in our cul-de-sac. I prayed for her a lot. I didn’t know her, but I prayed for her.
My dog was my ministry partner. Little Stewie and I would go for a walk right past their car. I wanted the kids to know an adult saw them. I prayed every time I walked past. The young girl liked Stewie (he is irresistible after all!). Once in awhile she and I engaged in small talk over Stewie.
I don’t know how many months I prayed, but it was several. I didn’t know what to do. Finally, I saw what looked like illegal behavior. I had to do something.
I needed to do what I wished someone would have done when they saw me up to no good. I was terrified, but I knew I had to say something to this girl’s mother whom I did not know. I only knew what she looked like.
God stirred something in me that resembled courage. He gave me a holy boldness to approach the mother and tell her what I had seen. After I told her, I gave her a hug and reassured her she was a good mom. She had just walked through a divorce and she doubted her parenting skills. Parenting is a flat-out tough job. I told her it wasn’t a reflection of her as a mother. I explained how I had gotten into trouble when I was younger and made bad choices. I prayed that her daughter would get help before she got too far down a path she would later regret.
A young girl like I was, lost in the shuffle of others’ busy-busy life, I ventured far away from our Father.
In my 40’s, I found Him again. This time, I wasn’t about to let go. This time, He had my heart …. hook, line, and sinker.
When God has our heart, He gives us a bit more of His. He grows our compassion. He helps us to see and to hear the need of others.
Who does God want you to see? Who does He want you to help? Maybe it’s the young girl with a scarlet letter walking through the doors of your church. Maybe it’s the girl down the street who looks like she needs help and a hug. Maybe it’s her mother at her whit’s end, not sure which way is up and just trying to keep her head above water. Maybe it’s the senior citizen God has placed in your life who is lonely and in need of companionship. Maybe it’s that child half a world away who needs your help for their basic daily needs. I don’t know. Only God knows who He is calling you to.
Listen. Heed His voice. It’s imperative. Someone’s life is at stake. God is counting on us as Christ followers to make a difference. I’m not telling you (or myself) to do everything, to take care of everyone’s needs. What I am saying is we are all called to someone or a group of someone’s. Help those God asks you to. Put His love into action by loving those around you.
This next example is going to seem extreme, but it’s not. When the holocaust happened, people didn’t “see” it. They put blinders on and chose not to see what they didn’t want to. Maybe it was too hard to look at. Well, imagine living it. What would have happened if more of God’s people would have stood up for life and liberty? By the time we did, it was too late for many.
Let us not to be too late. God desires to bring His life and liberty to many. He asks us to participate in His plan.
Recently, I was talking to someone about the turmoil overseas.
She inquired “How can God allow people to be tortured and tormented?”
That’s a very good question.
This is my theory. He doesn’t. He has called someone to take action there. Perhaps, someone is not hearing what God has to say. When we plug our ears to the world’s plight, the world doesn’t see the power of Christ exhibited through the hands of ordinary people like you and I. Christ calls us to make a difference. Do we?
What about when we delay, uncertain we are hearing correctly? I can sit in this one for awhile as I ask, “Are you sure, God? Is that what you want me to do?” Every moment I delay obedience to God, someone else’s deliverance through the power of Christ may be delayed. God can use someone other than me or you, but He shouldn’t have to.
Let us not delay. Delay is disobedience.
Let us not delay. Deliverance of God’s sons and daughters depends on it.
By the way, this post does not infer I always get this right. The more daunting thought is how many times have I missed someone God has placed in my path.
QUESTIONS & ACTIONS
- How have you seen delayed obedience to Christ affect His cause?
- Who has God placed in your life to help?
- How can you take action to extend love today?
- What cause stirs your heart to take action?
- Whose deliverance is at stake if you are disobedient to God’s call?