Wednesday, February 25, 2015

{Lenten Love Dare} You Are Not Forgotten

If you looked me right in the eye
Would you see the pain deep inside
Would you take the time to
Tell me what I need to hear
Tell me that I’m not forgotten
Show me there’s a God
Who can be more than all I’ve ever wanted
‘Cause right now I need a little hope
I need to know that I’m not alone
Maybe God is calling you tonight
To tell me something
That might save my life

Sidewalk Prophets, Save My Life

The greatest desire of our hearts is to be loved, to belong, to be found worthy. Whether we acknowledge it openly or not, how many of our most crushing moments stem from a time when we felt cast aside, invisible, unworthy, unloved, and unnoticed? I know that those times of darkness in my life drain me of energy, joy, motivation, and make me turn inward in a negative way. Most often I can be found crumpled on the kitchen floor - just ask the Hubs!

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta astutely diagnosed us in the west some decades ago. She prophetically noted that 
The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty -- it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There's a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.
This has not changed. If we are honest, we are spiraling even further into an epidemic of loneliness and isolation, despite advances in communication technology and transportation. The ability to be connected at any time has ironically left us ill equipped to connect with one another meaningfully. We have become a people of ten second soundbites, 140 character messages, and quick updates. How often do we see one another seated at tables laughing and smiling at our phones and tablets instead of looking at the people who are right beside us. I know I am guilty of it at times myself. It has to stop.

Before we go further, understand that I am not anti-technology. Quite the opposite really. I love how growing technology has given us the tools to connect with one another in a manner unprecedented at any other time of human history. However, as Peter Parker's (Spiderman's) Uncle Ben reminds us, it seems by quoting Voltaire, "With great power comes great responsibility." 

How many people do we walk by without acknowledging with as much as a smile? Do we look people in the eye as we pass, or are we so busy living in our heads with all that is going on in our lives that we barely take a glance at them? When we ask how people are doing, are we truly seeking an honest answer, or is it just a polite gesture with the hope of a quick "I'm fine."? (Hint: we are not fine.)

Here is a radical thought. Take the time to look people in the eye when you meet them on the street, in a restaurant, in church. Try to remember that God created them in His image and longs for their return to Him in the eternal kingdom. Remember that God has placed a desire in their hearts for their return to Him as well. Flash them that beautiful smile and say hello to let them know they have been seen. Leave time in your day to ask how people are doing, really doing, and be willing to listen to their stories. Build relationships with people you might otherwise just pass by along your day. If God repeatedly brings someone through your life, maybe, just maybe, He intends you to reach out to them for Him. 

Be warned. Opening yourself to this will bring people into your life you don't intend. It may (will) push you outside of your comfort zone. God's love isn't just for the righteous. Jesus didn't come for those of us who have our act together (hint: that's no one). He came to redeem the whole world, and He sends us out to the whole world, to all the corners of the earth. Maybe this means that you'll be sent to another corner, or maybe this means that He needs you to lighten up the corner of the world you are in right now. 

There is your challenge for the week ahead. Notice someone you wouldn't normally see (or don't want to see). Look them in the eye, share with them the truth and depth of God's love for them, and let them know they are not forgotten. Pray for them. Better yet, pray with them right there. See where God takes you and follow. 

Let's continue to love 'em like Jesus!

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