Tag: Stepping out in Faith

How to be a Difference Maker

 

Julio Diaz gets off the train like it’s any other day. His mind is fixed on grabbing a bite to eat at his favorite café. It’s an ordinary day in an ordinary place, and nothing about the day leads Julio to believe he might change someone’s life forever through the unforeseen chain of events that will soon unfold.

As Julio gets off the train, a young teenager approaches with a knife. The teen wants Julio’s wallet.

After giving up the wallet, Julio turns to the young man and hands him his coat, saying, “If you’re gonna be robbing people for the rest of the night, you might as well take my coat to keep you warm.”

What kind of love is this?

I put myself in the place of the young man with the knife. Surely he was overcome with shock. Disbelief. Awe.

Because really, haven’t we all been the boy with the knife – thinking only of self, thinking only of immediate needs and the flesh and moving up in the world for our own purposes. Not thinking a single thing of how our actions might affect someone else on a practical level.

Julio convinces the young man to join him for dinner, and he says to the boy, “What is it that you want out of life?”

The boy doesn’t know.   His expression is filled with sorrow. And really, haven’t most of us faced this dilemma? The empty canvas of our lives leaves room for endless possibilities, but we feel utterly stuck. Utterly clueless.

When the bill for dinner comes, Julio convinces the boy to return his wallet and treats him to dinner. He offers the boy twenty dollars in exchange for one item: the knife. The boy agrees, and for Julio, the story seems to end here.

~~~

I read this story on The Daily Good news sight not long ago, and it seems the story ends with Julio’s gift of money and the boy’s surrender of the knife. But surely, the story doesn’t end here.

Maybe the boy grew up to be a respectable man. Maybe he quit threatening people and asking for their money. Or maybe he went out the next evening and robbed ten more people. We might never know.

But what we do know is that an act of kindness never falls on blind eyes. Even when no one notices, even when it seems our sacrifice failed to make the difference we hoped, God sees every quiet act of act of kindness, and he is pleased.

It’s easy to grow frustrated when our kindness is met with disdain. It’s easy to throw in the towel when our sacrifice doesn’t seem to make the slightest bit of difference in another person’s life. Choose kindness anyway.

When a family member crosses you, and your blood boils wildly, choose kindness. Choose it if no one will see. Choose it if you don’t think you can.

When a young mom or elderly man struggles to put groceries in the car, choose kindness. When your toddler throws his seventeenth fit of the day, choose kindness. When you’re cut off in traffic, choose kindness. When it’s entirely tempting to have the last word – when you know you can win this verbal showdown – choose kindness.

I spent a decade as a youth leader at the church we’ve attended for eleven years. Throughout the years, I joined teens on trips to places like Brooklyn and Tijuana. I spent sleepless nights counseling hurting girls, sacrificed family time to invest in young lives, and poured my heart into the ministry.

There were times when I was met with defiance instead of gratitude and criticism instead of kindness. There were times when I wondered if the investment was worthwhile.

Years later, I now have the opportunity to see some of the fruit from those years. Many of the teens have grown to adults and moved away; however, a few remain. They live near our hometown, where they now serve as youth leaders, teachers, Bible study leaders, and loving contributors to ministries ranging from raising their own children to serving in very public careers.

We never know where the ripple-effects of our kindness might reach. Even when it seems to make no difference at all, choose kindness. And above all, remember that your kindness pleases your Maker. His pleasure is reason enough in itself.

 

References:

A Case for Kindness: Lisa Barrickman

http://www.dailygood.org/more.php?n=3678

 

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When You’re Wondering If You Really Have What It Takes

 

The thick Carolina air presses on my lungs like I’m caught in a stranglehold, and I wonder if I just might suffocate under the weight of it. Lavender thistle blossoms bow and rise in unison, and yet there is no breeze.  They must be praising their Maker.

I join them, and the heaviness in my chest seems to lift. Perhaps it wasn’t the Carolina heat after all.

I’ve been wrestling hard this weekend. I’ve wrestled with the realization that I am different than the 800 women at this conference.  It’s a conference for women who are called to write, speak, and lead, and I’m still not convinced I’m one of them.  I’ve wrestled with the invitation to take a step of faith like this: leaving my husband to tend to two little ones who happen to be fighting the stomach bug at this very moment; stepping away from my calling as a mother, wife, mentor, and other things; driving eight hours through the Blue Ridge Mountains like I’m chasing down a dream.  Something about it all makes me feel small and vulnerable.

It also feels like a risk I’m not sure I wanted to take. Am I risking appearing a fool if this dream never takes flight?  Am I risking the well-being of family?  I know, for sure, that I’m risking things I’d rather hold with tightly clenched fists.  Letting go feels like slow death dripping from my fingertips.

My morning jog down the Carolina Thread Trail slows to a walk. Queen Ann’s Lace blankets the trail’s edge like a gentle reminder of home.  Pennsylvania.  Where the air is lighter and these questions don’t press with such poignancy.

I think of the words Liz spoke last night, and I discipline my racing mind to stop. To rest at the feet of my Lord and wait for what he might want to speak to me – through me.  And in this place, their faces come to my mind, one by one.  I see the faces of the women whose paths divinely crossed mine in the beautiful conference center with the Bible verses hanging on banners from the ceilings and the colorful bouquets on the tables.

I see their faces, and I want to encourage them to keep pressing forward, keep following the calling, and keep trusting in his timing. I want to remind them of these things too:

You belong

I know you had a moment of scanning the crowd and wondering where you fit in. I know you felt a wave of anxiety when you saw their beautiful outfits and perfect hair.  I did too.  Each one of us looked for where we might fit in the crowd.  We wondered if we really belonged.

You do belong. You belong among the throngs of women who are passionate about fulfilling a life calling that is something greater than themselves. You belong in the calling of your everyday life, and you belong in this place that looks like stepping out in faith to follow a dream.  God is pleased when his children step out in faith and trust him to lead.  We are chosen people, a royal priesthood, a people belonging to God.  Keep sharing the praises of him who called you out of darkness and into his marvelous light.

Your words matter

It’s easy to fix our eyes on the ones who seem to have arrived. It’s easy to stop telling our stories when we’re told they aren’t marketable, when we’re told they’re not the right fit, or when we’re told someone else is already saying the same thing – and saying it better.  These words cut to the heart, especially when the words we want to share are birthed from our deepest places of pain, heartbreak, vulnerability, and passion.

Don’t let the critics get you down, child.  Keep telling your story.  Keep speaking it to the masses and to the cashiers at the grocery store.  Keep writing your triumphs, your failures, and your grief.  If these words touch one person, you have glorified Christ.  Don’t go silent now, sweet friend. It’s only just begun.

You are crazily loved

I stood with close to a thousand women this weekend – women who want to glorify God with their lives. We worshiped before the throne, just our voices, singing of his greatness.  I was reminded of one simple truth.  It’s a simple truth that’s enough to transform the whole sum of my weekend, my month, my summer, and my life: If you only knew just how much he loved you . . .

If you only caught a glimpse of the joy he experiences when he sees his children stand before him in unified adoration, you would live as a marked woman. Your life is a fragrant offering, and it is beautiful to the King.  He sees your imperfections.  He sees your failures and your sin – past and present.  His blood is enough to cover it all, and clothed in his righteousness, you are spotless.

You are loved more than you can fathom, and every time you take a step of faith, whether it’s stepping into your job with eyes set to find someone to love, whether it’s writing your first blog post, starting your first page, or opening a new chapter, your Father dances over you with sheer delight.

Keep pressing on, friends. There is more to come in this journey, and it all points to the King.

*The sweet woman in this photo is my prayer partner from the weekend.  Thanks for exuding joy and speaking words of encouragement, Barb!

 

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