Monday, November 14, 2011

Caring Beyond 'Enough'

"Reach; Reach farther; STRETCH!"  These words lie somewhere in the shadows of my mind. My mother was always one for getting the job done - she still is, for that matter.  Whatever it takes, the job gets done, and done right. Beyond getting it done, it must be better than just "good enough". Growing up I was priviledged to have her example of not only duty and practicality, but always being done with a true, honest mix of love and caring. I do not believe that I ever heard my mother utter an ugly word to or about anyone. I have been heard to say, "I want to be just like her when I grow up", but I find myself often pessimistic and negative. Almost daily I pray that I will not grow cold and hard in my old age.  Have you ever asked yourself, "just what have I got to be bitter about, anyway?!" I ask myself this all the time.

What is in a "reach"? A reach is anything that extends itself beyond one's body for the purpose of connecting with an object. In order to do this we have to give up something of ourselves.  Our pastor often reminds us that once one has placed their trust in the Savior, they've taken the first step on giving up on self, and giving over to God.  "He must increase, but I must decrease", this verse comes to my mind as I write.  Of course, it was written by John Baptist concerning his Messiah, Jesus Christ. It is the same thing any believer must ask God to produce in them though. John Baptist's life was one that was to "prepare the way of the Lord". He lived his life to reach out to people, to help prepare them for the Messiah's ministry to the earth. Jesus Christ came to "give His life a ransom for many". He was here only to do the work of his heavenly Father. What examples we have been left. Jesus Christ cared for people beyond just, 'enough'.  He told his apostles, "whosoever asketh thee thy coat, give him thy cloak also." It is the teaching of 'going the extra mile'. This morning I was reading about the multitudes who had been listening to the Lord speak. Jesus told his disciples to give them to eat. They had but five loaves and two small fishes. The Lord could not send them away hungry. I noted that he had them sit down upon the "green grass". How lovely that the grass was green and that it was noted in Scripture. Jesus proceeded to "give thanks" and bless the bread. God multiplied it to feed the whole multitude with twelve baskets of fragments left over! There has never been any example of someone who cared for people's souls and bodies more than God Himself, in the God-man, Jesus Christ!

I ask myself alot of questions. These are questions that I bring to the throne also. "How can I care for so-and-so in this particular situation?" Everyone is individual and each needs caring in a different way. Only the Lord knows what the best way is. He does show us if we wait on Him and will extend beyond ourselves and care beyond just 'enough'. There are those all around us who need help. Jesus' teaching was that of 'the extra mile'.  If someone asks you to "go a mile with them; go with them twain", He said.
"Reach", then "reach further", out to others. Have I only cared? or have I truly cared beyond 'enough'?

But how should I react to praise? As I've gotten older I have been more and more thankful for people who show concern and care for me. Never having felt that I 'needed' or perhaps even 'deserved' people's care, I've come to realize that it has come from a heart that was self-sufficient and, simply put, selfish. If we suppose that we don't deserve the help of others it robs people of this important opportunity of ministering; of reaching outside of themselves to touch the life of another person.  Have you ever received a note in the mail that expresses an individual's thankfulness to you for the way God used you in their life? It amazes me and brings tears to my eyes when I get a note like this. I've begun to realize that it is my lack of faith that causes the amazement. Do I not believe that, when I make something a matter of fervent prayer, the Lord will do it? If I don't believe the Lord is making me what He wants me to be (as this is a daily prayer request), I now realize that it is due to a lack of faith on my part. Piety would have us believe that we do not deserve such notes of 'thanks'; that we ought not to be noticed or recognized as servants, for whatever reason.  In true service for the Lord there is no place for pride or false piety. If God used you, be thankful and take thanks graciously - giving the glory back to Him who made it possible in the first place!

This week there will be opportunities to come out of myself. Will I take them? It is a question we all have to face. I pray that the Lord will show me the souls and bodies that He wants me to extend care to; and that, beyond just 'enough'.