they don’t deserve it

At 6:45 this morning I was driving in to Cambridge where I work thinking two things.

I HATE the morning.

I don’t have enough coffee.

If you know me you know I need a very specific level of caffination to function properly. It also needs to not be 6:45 am.

It’s become an ongoing joke now for a committee I sit on. At the start of the meeting half as a joke and half as a request to know if I’m going to be productive yet they ask “how’s your caffeine level?”

If you didn’t know me and meet me at 9am you’d probably think I’m kind of distance, disinterested and perhaps a little cold. The reality, I hope, is that I’m not those things but in the morning I need a long while to get going. I need some coffee and I need some time.

The people I work with are so gracious. They know I may not seem super engaged or be offering a lot of helpful insight to start but that it’s coming.  They offer a lot of grace.

And most of us are good at being gracious with people we know and especially people we like. It’s easy to be gracious when they ‘deserve’ it.

But we’re trying for more.

And it is sooooo frustrating.

Who honestly wants to give up their right to be upset or just be right?

Who doesn’t like it when people owe them?

Who choose to not make people see all they did wrong and get what they deserve?

Who honestly shows grace to that person who yelled/ cut us off in traffic/ should know better/ is an adult/ went to school for this/ choose this as a job/ or whatever else that means they truly don’t deserve grace?

We try to.

Every day, in ever relationship.

Good luck, I know I need it.

answer your own prayer

Ok today we are back to the sweet spot of this space, stories.

This week we talked about broken relationships in home church. We talked about where we see them in our daily lives. There were a few examples of people in their work place or their extended family, standard stuff.

But as this discussion is going on I get a text from a good friend. They work with youth and a youth they know was being sent back into a ‘volatile’ situation as she put it. She wondered if we could pray for the young person.

As all good Christians do I said yes.

But is that enough? It is enough to simply think good thoughts and ask God for good to happen?

And then God kicked in and it dawned on me I should check in with my friend. How was she doing? Yes God wants to bring help, peace, and safety to the young person but what about the darkness and stress that my friend was left with?

You’re probably better at this than me but I can really easily miss that side. A gentle, caring person asks for us to remember someone in need but who remembers them? Who’s sending the text on their behalf to ask for someone to pray?

I struggle with prayer a lot. We’ll talk more about I’m sure in the future but there was a thought Rob Bell once said that has stuck with me and I think is just so core to the life of compassion.

He said “what if you are the answer to your prayers?”

Read it again.

I’m thinking to myself that I should pray not just for the young girl but my good friend. I was thinking it sounds like she’s had an awful day and probably needs a little peace and light and hope in her life today to.

But what if that peace and light and hope was supposed to be me? What if God’s answer to my prayer for my friend was for me to love my friend?

This all took 45 seconds in my mind and I sent back a text saying “what can I do to help?”

She said like most “there’s nothing you can do”

But feeling like I needed to answer my own prayer here and not abdicate my responsibility and my relationship with this friend and hope God would do something I pushed. I said “Bah, nonsense of course there’s something I can do. Dinner? Bottle o’wine? Vent?”

“How about tea and a visit with you and Sarah?”

And my prayers were answered.

God has placed us in relationship and community to be the answer to prayers. He can and at times does intervene in a supernatural way. But I think He likes to use us. I think He likes to partner with us and have us share Him. Share His light and love and grace in the darkness that comes into people’s lives.

Your life of compassion is one where God is calling you to be an answer to peoples prayers in your relationships and your community. Maybe next time don’t ask God to fix it but what does he want you to do to help bring light into the darkness.

church in our culture

I was talking with a good friend about faith and how it all plays out.

The conversation drifted a little and got more and more meta. We talked about what the reasons are for why people are, in our opinion, more egocentric then they should be. We went back and forth on reasons why people care and think more about themselves than perhaps a Christ follower should.

And this lead us to an interesting discussion and the part that I think is really worth highlighting.

We talk about culture.

We talked about how our society is so individualistic and we are taught to think about ourselves. Then I noted how a lot of church does that too. Jesus came to save ME. Jesus is MY best friends.

“So which came first” he asked.

Did society infiltrate the church and shift our views to be more individualistic OR, did the church begin to take a more individualistic approach at some point that has now permeated society.

I have two thoughts and to be honest the second if far more important than the first.

Lets start the less important one.

I’m not sure which it is but both are kind of scary.

If it’s society that shaped the church that’s a big problem. If we have allowed the church to be shaped by the society it is in and to become individualistic because that’s what society is becoming we really missed the be in the world but not of the world call.

BUT, if the church has shaped the society it may be worse. If the individualism and lack of care and support for our neighbour came because the church focused so much on your salvation rather than the redemption of everything and your call in it, we screwed up BIG.

Either way, it’s not great.

That leads to my second, and far more important thought.

I don’t really care.

Society shaped church or vise versa I don’t care. We waste so much time debating how the world has gotten as bad as it is.

No prayer in schools, TV and the internet have ruined relationships, no one really cares anymore, etc…

We are where we are and how we got here is so much less important than where we are going and what we are doing to bring God’s grace into this world.

We are to love others with the same unconditional love God shows us. That’s relational and is done in community. We can spend some much time looking back that we never just do in the NOW what we know we are called to. It’s not complicated.

Is it harder than it was when people really cared or whatever it was like back I the day? Maybe I don’t know. Doesn’t really matter because we’re not back in the day we’re in the here and now and wishing for the back in the day won’t bring it back.

Sure let’s look at structures and why’s, but it has to be as we are acting TODAY and moving towards the clear call of a Christ follower.

So what will you do today to make your life more like Christ’s? What will you choose to do today that will help your life be more compassionate?

This space has loads of ideas in past posts, but so there are no excuses a few more:

–          Bake cookies for your neighbour

–          Spend some time on the computer researching a cause in your community you want to get behind and then connect with them

–          Plan a compassion activity for your home church

–          Review your budget to find more money to be generous with

–          Hand write and mail a note to someone needs to know they are loved

–          Educate yourself on the reality of poverty in this area

Pick something and do it today. Engage in community. I don’t know how we got here but I promise you it’s not where God wants us to be right now.

So take part in His plan to redeem everything. Jump in where God is moving and shape where we go as opposed to simply lamenting what we’ve lost.