The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself. Luke 10:27 NIV
Who are you? Whose are you? What thoughts dominate your mind? What emotions control you heart? Whom or what do you worship? What increases or depletes your strength? Whom or what do you love with your entire mind, heart, soul, and strength? The answer affects your life and eternity.
People answer most of those questions in the first 5 minutes I spend with them. They speak words that mirror their thoughts. They wear emotions on the set of their jaw and the bent of their shoulders. They demonstrate what they worship by what excites or hurts them. Their strength is obvious by the shape of their body and the speed of their gait. The sweet aroma of Christ is unmistakable and the lack of it is as painfully obvious as a gaping hole left in a ship by an enemy torpedo.
The signs of pain are everywhere. God has called me to minister to people on the streets of America. I hear shocking stories as I travel. I witness shocking deeds. Some are so broken that they have lost faith in ever being happy again. Some are so hardened that bitterness spews out of every breath. I want to weep when I meet Christians who spot evil on every street corner and have taken it upon themselves to be the “sin police.” I apologize when I meet Christians and non-Christians who been so damaged by the "sin police" that they have rejected Christ and Christ’s church completely. People casually and jokingly share deeds so mean spirited, dangerous, or evil that I shudder as I recognize the deep pain behind their lighthearted words.
It is not hard to discover what is important to people. What we do with the information depends on who and whose we are. The easy way out would be to play the "sin police" by pointing out what people are doing wrong and how they could do better. After all, those mistakes are usually obvious to everyone. If we’ve spent time studying the Bible, we could hurl the words of God as an indictment and feel self righteous as we do it. The problem with that approach is that it focuses on behavior and not the heart. God cares about the heart. The behavior is a mere symptom of what is going on in the heart.
When I meet people on the street, I have a moment to influence a heart and if I focused on behavior, I’d lose that moment. When I focus on judging or reacting to behavior instead of having compassion for the damaged or hurting heart, it means that something is wrong with my heart.
What I long to do with every pour of my being is to let the perfect forgiving understanding loving heart of Jesus shine so brightly that that even if someone rejects it, they never forget the attraction. The heart of Jesus saw the sin of the prostitute but ministered to the damaged heart. The heart of Jesus rebuked the pious religious people so intent on living by rules and regulations that they had no room left to love. The heart of Jesus was compassionate to a thief condemned on a cross. The Jesus I want to radiate prayed for His executioners while His blood dripped onto the ground below.
My job on the streets of America is to love God with my entire mind, heart, soul, and strength and let that love bubble up and pour over every person I meet. Knowing and doing that are two different things. It is sometimes a challenge to love God with my entire mind when my mind whirls with uncertainty about what lies around the next corner. Loving God with my entire heart grows difficult when I let my heart be damaged by damaged people. It is impossible to love God with my entire soul when my soul craves what is out of my reach. I can forget to love God with my entire strength when my body is made uncomfortable by the demands of God’s calling. When I allow earthly distractions to interfere with loving God, the babbling brook that represents my love for others dams up and stops flowing. The only answer is for me to stop trying to solve every difficulty and turn my entire attention back to loving God with all that I am.
On those days when I manage to love God with most of my imperfect being, I notice beauty and peek around the next corner with anticipation. I recognize damaged hearts even as they hurl unfair, untrue, or cruel words about my Savior or occasionally me. I’m able to minister to a heart instead of reacting or taking harsh or ugly words personally. I accept the blessings God gives today and trust that they are not only enough, they are abundant. I serve God with the strength I have and He multiplies it and pours it out on the world the same way He fed 5000 with just a few loaves and fishes. When I love with the heart of Jesus, people want to know more of the Jesus who creates such love. My love for God grows as I witness the power of that love in their lives and suddenly, I have more love to offer to the world.
When the “who” of me becomes a Christ-follower seeking the Mind of Christ and the “whose” of me is God’s beloved, forgiven child, I can walk on water, move mountains, and say to the wind, “peace be still.” That kind of power is available to you if you want it. Who and whose are you?
Cheryle M. Touchton is the Director of Pocket Full of Change Ministries. For more information or to schedule a speaker for an event, go to www.pocketfullofchange.org or call Cheryle Touchton at 904-614-3585.
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Copyright: Pocket Full of Change Ministries
Such good words. I find it easy to think I am endlessly compassionate, after my years as a psychotherapist have honed that skill, but my internal reality is often not so full of Jesus' love.
Thanks for the reminders. Bless you as you extend his truth, love, and compassion in the circles God gives you.