Many years ago as a young woman in a church that was amazingly alive and hungry for God, I heard a sermon about “ministering to others”. I had been attending for a while, learning and growing with much enthusiasm. I wanted to be zealous for God! I wanted to be used! This particular sermon stirred me so, that I can remember this day quite clearly.
Service over, lunch consumed, I take my bible and sit outside in a lawn chair, wanting to hear God. I read and pray and I just know that God has someone I can minister to, that He actually wants to use me. I envision another young mother like myself that would come over for coffee and we would have bible study in my home, we would pray together and see miracles happen! Our children could play together while we studied, it would be lovely!
The day progresses with the regular responsibilities of a life with small children, and finally winds down with them tucked away in bed, and me ready to do the same. It’s a very cold night and our little mobile home was quite chilly. I was ready for the warmth of the blankets and the dreams of my “ministry” opportunity.
I hear a knock at the door. Who could be here at this time of night? As soon as I open the door, God says “Here she is!”. I spoke to her, she asked me a question, I said “wait here”, and I shut the door. I left her out on the steps. In the cold. I quickly ran to my room for an emergency chat with God!
“Surely, God, you don’t mean her?”
“But God, you know what she’s done, you know how she is, you know how I feel about her!”
“This is the one I want you to minister to.”
“But I can’t, I just can’t…..”
“Didn’t you ask Me for someone who needed Me?”
“Someone that you could truly pour My love on?”
“She needs Me more than you can imagine. Will you obey?”
I rush back to the door, humbled and ashamed, and ask her in. We talk for a few minutes and I discover that she has walked several miles in the cold to reach our house. We make arrangements for her to get to her family. But I know. God has spoken. He has opened my eyes to see a need in her that I had never seen before, and this is my turn to reach out. My turn to give grace. My turn to show mercy. My turn to bestow undeserved favor. My turn to love. Really love, expecting nothing in return.
It wasn’t easy for either of us! It was a relationship that required a great deal of time and effort, and produced a multitude of smiles and tears along the way. It didn’t turn out to be a lifelong friendship as I had hoped, but God taught me so much about loving the unlovely at that time. (He also revealed to me very quickly that I had been the unlovely one when I left her standing in the cold!)
1 John 2:9-10 says “Whoever says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother (Christian, born-again child of God his Father) is in darkness even until now. Whoever loves his brother believer abides in the Light, and in It there is no occasion for stumbling or cause for error or sin.”
This young woman was a believer. She believed that Jesus Christ is the risen Son of God, and had asked Him into her life before I ever met her. Her life was messy and to bring her into my life meant messing up my life a bit as well. Not with sin, but it would mess up my plans, my ideas of how my life should be. So I had to choose: life in darkness or walk in the Light. I chose Light. It was a good choice. I made a lot of mistakes in learning how to “minister”, but I did a lot of things just as He wanted. I have no regrets.
So, next time the person who’s “messy”, or the ones of a different color, different denomination, different look show up at our door, what will we choose? They’ve probably been knocking for a while and we haven’t heard. Many times the door they’re knocking on is at the front of our church. Often, it’s just the door of our lives. Jesus came knocking and we let Him in. “And the King will reply to them, Truly I tell you, in so far as you did it for one of the least of these My brethren, you did it for Me.” Matthew 25:40
As I mentioned, it didn’t turn out like I expected. I know He has not forgotten her, although our lives parted. I still pray for her. I’ve turned it all over to Him – it was His idea anyways!!