February 7, 2016
I recently finished reading The Color of Grace by Bethany Haley Williams who leads a ministry providing care to former child soldiers and young girls used as sex slaves in Africa. The stories in the book, although heartbreaking to read were powerful examples of God’s transformation from brokenness to redemption. I am humbled and awed by the author’s bravery to do the work in dangerous war-torn regions, yet also encouraged to see God’s unfailing love in each of the stories she shared.
It is so easy to think as Christians we can’t make any difference unless we uproot our lives and head overseas, yet even Bethany Haley Williams, someone who has done this exact thing says otherwise. This is an excerpt of one of her journal entries describing an interaction with Bill, a homeless man she met here in the United States:
“I had just returned from one of the most dangerous places on Earth; I had gone to bring life to hundreds of children of war. But when I came home, I saw Bill. Where? Right in front of me. Where was he the night before I flew to Haiti? Right in front of me. I looked down at my hands as I sat in the Jeep and I noticed that, strangely, they were . . .right in front of me.
I understood the Good Samaritan that night as never before. One message from that story screams out to me: the wounded one was right in front of the passersby.
They did not have to search for their purpose or calling or passion in life. They just had to start with what was right there. Staring them in the face. But only one person picked him up, bandaged his wounds, and led him to safety. The Good Samaritan didn’t have to fly across oceans or battle customs or fear gunshots in the middle of the night. He just had to begin—right where he was. He just had to help the man right in front of him. One person at a time.
The reason we don’t? For me, it’s either because I am looking past them to get where I am going or because I doubt that I can make a real difference.
Until we have been to Vietnam and our legs are amputated in the war, the addiction to painkillers comes upon us like a thief in the night, and alcohol becomes our only friend because few people want to take care of a crippled man — until we find ourselves outside McDonald’s asking for a simple cup of coffee to keep us warm — until then, we can’t really understand.
If we cannot completely and perfectly fix the broken pieces, should we just let the chips fall where they may? And if we do, where will they fall?
I believe the answer is not even remotely found in making all things fit together perfectly. Perhaps it isn’t our job to make it all better, and it may not be possible. I do believe the answer is found in looking at the one right in front of us. The lonely lady in the elevator who is a single mom. The refugee who needs someone to teach her English. The wife whose day would be made new if her husband handed her a single flower. The child who longs for one second of your attention and the words he so needs to hear: “You are important to me.” Does it fix everything? Not a chance. But perhaps fixing isn’t what we are called to do.
Maybe serving doesn’t have to look like making everything better. Maybe it’s more about the mending. And perhaps it is in the momentary mending that Jesus’ love is heard the loudest and seen in the most radiant of colors.”
Beautifully written and encouraging. The command to “love our neighbor” truly means the person right in front of us.