Love One Another as I Have Loved You

Love one another as I have loved you.  -John 13:34

Estes, 8.1.14 024

For those of you who have been reading my blog for any length of time, you know my husband and I like to go bike riding. We have a stunningly beautiful trail that follows the river and goes into Denver, about 30 miles round trip. It’s also a trail that attracts many homeless men and women that set up camp along the river and under the overpasses.

Also, for those of you who have been reading my blog for the past couple of months, you know my sisters and I, as well as others we recruited, had a 30-day prayer challenge where we tuned into those around us and prayed for a stranger each day. That trail gives endless opportunities to pray for strangers in need.

And here’s where the two tie together.

About a month ago on one of our bike rides, I saw a person way up ahead crawling on the concrete trail. I watched as several bikes passed by this person, swerving around him, barely taking notice. As I approached him I heard him groaning, struggling to continue on. My husband was a ways behind me and I stopped by this young man, who was clearly homeless, and asked if he was okay. During this time, more bikes passed by, and those that looked, quickly glanced away. I asked him if he was okay, he said he was fine. We exchanged a few more words, he insisting he was fine. I got on my bike and continued, slowly, until my husband caught up to me. But when he did, I stopped. Something was keeping me from continuing. I couldn’t leave this man, hurt, in the middle of nowhere. I told my husband I had to go back and see what I could do.

Now, given the professions in which we work (my husband is a police officer and I work at a District Attorney’s Office), it’s all too easy to become skeptical and jaded about humanity. My husband didn’t think it was a good idea, thinking he might have been high on drugs or alcohol. But I insisted it didn’t matter if he was high or drunk, he was hurt. I could feel it in my gut. My husband agreed to turn around with me and go back.

As it turned out, he was hurt. He’d fallen the night before, thought his foot was likely broken, and was trying to make it into Denver. I asked him if I could call someone for him, he said he didn’t have anyone. I asked if I could call 911, he said he didn’t have any money, to just go ahead and he’d be fine.

I’d decided as soon as we reached Denver I would find someone who would know how to help this man. And the next mile was spent doing mental gymnastices trying to figure out how I could help him.

And then it happened. I heard in my head, the unmistakeable message, “You can’t help him, Rhonda, but I can. Ask Me.”

It was a clear message that gave me goosebumps on every square inch of my arms. God had placed this man in my path and I’d been so caught up in what I could do, that I nearly missed what I could do. This man was my stranger for the day, the one I was to pray for, and I nearly missed that golden opportunity.

When we reached Denver, I told my husband what had happened, and how it changed my heart. Once again, it struck me that praying for others blesses the person praying as much, if not more than, the one being prayed for.

On the way  back we saw him again. He smiled at us and we stopped. My husband pulled out his wallet and tried to offer him some help. The man said he couldn’t take the money, that he would be fine. That statement changed my husband’s heart. A homeless person refusing money??? Finally my husband said, “Please take it. It’s for me, not for you.” The man’s eyes pierced my husband’s heart, he took the offering and said, “Thank you for your blessing.”

Say what?!?

I believe God put that man in our path that day to change both my husband and me. My heart broke to see so many people pass by as if the man, crawling on the pavement, were nonexistent. As if they were afraid to notice him or too caught up in life to notice someone struggling. And it saddened me to think that that’s what has become of our society. Those that are homeless are every bit as precious in God’s eyes as anyone else. They are His children. And if someone passed by my children when they were struggling and hurt, it would rip my heart out.

Helping one another, helping to make life that can be beyond difficult easier for someone else, giving to another the grace and mercy that is so freely given to us–isn’t that what life is about?

Mother Teresa

Time to share – Tell me about a time you’ve helped someone else and how it changed you in ways you never expected.

 

 

Praying for Strangers

Praying for Strangers

A while back I read the book  Praying for Strangers: An Adventure of the Human Spirit by River Jordan, and at the time I had no idea how that book would impact my life. The book is about the 2009 New Year’s Resolution of an introverted woman whose sons were about to go off to war. Her quest for comfort and to keep her own sanity in the face of every parents nightmare, led to the idea for the perfect resolution–to pray for a complete stranger every day for the following year.

While it seems like such a small act of faith, it grew her faith huge. It became more than a resolution to River, but an exploration of, and journey into, the human spirit. She found that not only did her prayer touch the lives of those she prayed for, but it changed her own life in ways beyond what she ever could have imagined.

After reading the book, I began to think about how frequently I hear people say, “I’ll pray for you.” And how often I have said it without actually thinking of the follow-through. It was simply lip service.

I was so moved by River’s book that I told myself I was going to do the same thing, but that follow-through didn’t happen on an every day basis. What did happen, however, was the awareness of making an effort to follow through when I said I was going to pray.

“I’ll pray for you,” now means I really will pray. I have found that it’s something that costs absolutely nothing yet rewards abundantly.

And the other thing that happened was the compelling awareness at the most unexpected moments to pray for a stranger that is brought to my attention by a God who knows all things.

When I see someone on the street corner holding a sign asking for money, I’m compelled to offer up a prayer for God’s hand in his/her life.

When I see someone crying, I’m compelled to pray for healing.

When I hear someone speaking ill of another, I’m compelled to pray they find peace.

And each time I’m compelled to pray, I’m the one that’s richly blessed.

It gets me out of my own head and self-centeredness and leads me to think about others. It puts others needs before my own. And that’s what helps me grow closer to God. By connecting my human spirit to that of another.

Prayer

“God shapes the world by prayer. The more praying there is in the world the better the world will be, the mightier the forces against evil.”.

– E. M. Bounds

Peace.