"But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty-thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?" (Jonah 4:11 - NIV)
In our town there has always been a man with long hair, appears unkempt, sits on the side of the curb quite often in different spots throughout the day wearing his green army jacket, seems to keep to himself, yet has that far away look in his eyes that says that he could possibly be a few fries short of a happy meal, or simply emotionally conquered by events of the past. I have often wondered if he is homeless and prayed for him. I have often driven by with the kids in the car and felt the tug in my spirit to hand him a sandwich or a heavy winter coat. I never did. Another time, while driving past last summer, I noted that he had a haircut and a shave. He cleaned up nice, he did. I thought about stopping and asking him to church with us one Sunday. But, I never did. Winter is coming once again, and I wonder about the homeless man that I've observed from a distance.
My husband came home a while back and shared that a man who lived in a tent on the edge of town had died. (My heart sank, was this my homeless man?) I could see the sadness in my husband's eyes. He and a man he works with used to take turns buying the homeless man a sandwich and a hot cup of joe at a local diner by the railroad tracks here in town, they brought him a thermal blanket, and gave him a winter coat. I sat, tears streaming down my face, in admiration for the men who helped... and in remorse before God, for not doing as His Holy Spirit had lead me. It was too late. There was no excuse. I blew it and I knew it. To this day, I still wonder if someone ever shared the free gift salvation with that homeless man. I will not get another chance to help or to share the love of Christ with him. I just cringe thinking about what God is going to say to me come Judgment Day because of it. There is nothing I can say in my defense.
Much to my surprise, I passed ‘my' homeless man that I thought had died. I couldn't believe my eyes! I immediately took the next turn to go back to find him. I had another chance - and I wasn't going to blow it this time! Impatiently, I stopped at a cross walk waiting for folks to cross. I saw a big city bus pull up to the curb at the end of the green, blocking my view of the man. The bus pulled away, I searched frantically. He was gone. He must have gotten on the bus, or walked away. I missed my chance, but I knew there was hope! I prayed for God to bring someone to share the saving sacrifice of Jesus with this man.
Did you ever hear the expression, "You can run but, you can't hide?" All I have to say is thank God for that big ole' fish that He sent to swallow Jonah for those 3 days and nights! God did what it took to get Jonah where He wanted him to be. What a great example God gave us with Jonah! I thank God that I had a second chance with ‘my' homeless man... but now, I can't help but wonder about the man who used to live in the tent. Did he know Jesus?
God's Word is for everyone, there are no exceptions. Those who are called to serve God are to carry out His works and preach God's message and His truth to everyone - no matter how unpopular or hard it may be. If we, as Christians, simply proclaim what we know about Jesus... I bet we'd be surprised at just how many are willing to listen!
Many years ago, when my daughter was in high school, there was a raging flood in Houston. I worked downtown at that time, as I do now, and had to catch a bus back to the park ‘n ride lot. Once we were in the lot’s vicinity, the water was so high, we had to exit the bus, and walk the final two blocks to retrieve our cars.
I waded through the water and went to a nearby pay phone. Since it was after school hours and there wasn’t an answer in the dance studio where my daughter practiced, I proceeded on to my car. I was extremely concerned about the depth of water and how my little car was going to make it through.
After riding around the lot for a few minutes, I decided to take my chances, as I had to pick up my most precious cargo. One car went out of the driveway ahead of me and as they inched along in the high water, I followed closely behind. I figured they illumined the path and I was to follow. (Job 38:25 [NIV] 25 Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain, and a path for the thunderstorm…)
We both floated across the intersection and made it to the freeway without flooding out. After inching along cautiously, once I reached my destination, my daughter was extremely upset with me. It was not the greeting I had expected…one where we were glad to see each other and to rejoice that we were both safe and that I had somehow made it despite the circumstances. Instead, she was very angry.
I was unusually late arriving; but knew that I had attempted to call, to no avail. No amount of explanations were satisfying to her; she felt abandoned, alone and afraid. I tried to be her calm in the raging storm, but I failed miserably. It was probably one of the saddest and most trying times I can remember. Her faith in me was shaken and I couldn’t possibly understand, as I had done my best.
Perhaps our experience was like the story of the Disciples in Luke 8:22‑25 (Contemporary English Version):
22One day, Jesus and his disciples got into a boat, and he said, "Let's cross the lake." They started out, 23and while they were sailing across, he went to sleep. Suddenly a windstorm struck the lake, and the boat started sinking. They were in danger. 24So they went to Jesus and woke him up, "Master, Master! We are about to drown!" Jesus got up and ordered the wind and waves to stop. They obeyed, and everything was calm. 25Then Jesus asked the disciples, "Don't you have any faith?"
GospeLines Prayer: Father, thank You for being with both of us during this raging storm. Thank You for being with us in all of life’s storms…lo, there are many. We know that You walk with us when we don’t even call your name. I know You were with me because so many others were on the side of the road, yet I prevailed. It was only because of You, Lord.
I know of no task more difficult than counseling someone who has given up on life.I can only offer two thoughts that may influence the outcome favorably.Pray!Pray for the individual and for all those who love them.Also, pray for your words that they may come directly from the Lord and be carried into their heart and mind by His Holy Spirit.
In 1962, Burt Bacharach wrote a song entitled “Only love can break a heart.”The very next verse was, “Only love can mend it again.”This has never been truer than with those thinking of ending their lives.The difference is, it’s the love of God that can mend that heart again.
The Word of God is rich with admonition for those who have lost the will to go on.If a person is open to sharing the Words of the Lord, John 14:21 is the test of truth.“Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." (John 14:21)
If anyone agrees that they love Him and want to obey Him, His Words will gently show them His Father’s Holy will for their life.
“How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband?Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him.” (1st Corinthians 7:16-18)
“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfullygiving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light..” (Colossians 1:9-12)
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:6-7)
“But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.” (Jude 1:20-21)
“I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace.” (Acts 20:23-24)
May these words keep you, strengthen you and encourage you to finish the race.Although you may be walkingthrough the valley of the shadow of death, May you fear no evil: for the Lord our God is with you; His rod and staff are comforting you... Surely goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life and you will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.Amen!
"Be made new in the attitude of your minds and have the same attitude, purpose and humble mind that was in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 4:22-24; Philippians 2:4-7)
One Christmas Eve, when my children were younger, I was the last shopper in a toy store at the mall. There were broken parts and pieces of toys scattered on the floor.... dolls with hair missing, battered soldiers and smashed plastic cars. Have you ever wondered what they do with all those broken toys after Christmas? They weren't chosen by anyone because of their imperfect condition.
Maybe you feel like that, too. Sometimes we look at our own imperfections and become aware of reasons people might not want to choose us. Like the broken toy, we are afraid that we will end up on the floor to be walked on and kicked aside. We know our faults and blemishes all too well.
But God has a message for us this Christmas season. No matter how bad life gets, no matter how many divorces, deaths, disillusionments we face... nothing is going to change the fact that God made us just like we are, and He made us really good! We can never become so damaged that He will disown us, uncreate and unredeem us as His children. Never forget! God knows more about you than you do. You've got to believe it even though it seems impossible. You see some of your weaknesses, God knows your unseen strengths.
You are not too young, not too old, not too sick, not too guilty, not too alone, not too broken. Jehovah said to those who were made captive in Babylon, from the lips of Isaiah, "You are precious and honored... I love you... Do not be afraid, for I am with you." (Isa. 43:4-5)
GospeLines Prayer:Jehovah, when I am suffering in my own personal Babylon, lost from everyone and everything I hold dear, raise my valleys and lower the high mountains; make the rough ground level, and I will give you the glory forevermore.