"Don't just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other." Romans 12:9-10 (NLT)
Do you ever wonder exactly what God wants you to do, especially when you have so many options and demands to manage?
So often, we want big directional signs from God. But God just wants us to pay attention to what He places right in front of us. I learned this early on in ministry when I had dreams to do big things for God.
However, when I looked at what was right in front of me at that time it was my neighbors, Ken and Mary. They lived right down the street and were known for their amazing hospitality, adorable farmhouse and parties that stepped out of the pages of a magazine.
Mary was alive with creativity and always thinking of ways to bless others. Ken adored living out his retirement years helping his bride create a haven for family and friends.
But cancer swept in and before long, Ken laid Mary to rest in the arms of Jesus.
I remember seeing Ken not long after Mary's funeral. I knew I needed to stop and say something. But what?
When I reached Ken, I just bent down and gave him a hug. "How are you, Ken?" Tears filled his eyes, "Not so good. The silence is killing me, Lysa."
And with those words, I knew this interaction with Ken was an assignment from God. He was stirring my heart more and more as I began to sense I was to invite Ken over for dinner.
I started having this argument with God in my mind, "God, he's going to expect food. Cooking isn't in my Top 10 talents. I mean, sometimes we just order pizza and call it a night. My cooking doesn't even hold a candle to Mary's. Are you sure about this?"
But Ken hadn't asked for an amazing meal. What made his heart ache was the silence.
So I smiled at Ken and said, "Well then, you must come to our house for dinner. I can't always promise it will be tidy and I'm certainly no great cook, but one thing is for sure ... my house is never silent."
Thus started a tradition — Monday night dinners with Ken.
We never had candles or tablecloths or even a properly set table. But the noise of our family was an orchestra of comfort and healing to Ken's lonely heart.
We wanted to live out today's key verse, Romans 12:9-10, "Don't just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other."
Being knee-deep in the realities of small children made me feel like this wasn't my season of life to make a difference to the outside world. But offering what little I had was used by God!
We just did life and let Ken join in. I would often ask about Mary's ways of doing things and his face would light up at the opportunity to keep part of her alive.
And slowly but surely, as we all made time for these special dinners, we recaptured the sacredness of relationships that so often gets lost in the rush of our days.
One night, as Ken was leaving our home, he stepped off the sidewalk to make his way over to a bush in full bloom. He tenderly picked up one of the flowers and pressed his face close, breathing in its scent deeply.
He then looked back at me standing in the doorway and said, "Don't miss this. Don't rush through your life, Lysa. Make time to stop and breathe it all in."
I've never forgotten that.
Eventually, Ken met someone who could cook, got remarried and moved away.
But my family and I still preserve that sacred space for Monday night dinners. We invite co-workers, acquaintances and friends who feel like family to join us. We take time to talk. Laugh. Process life. Breathe it all in.
Although our to-do lists and schedules tug at our attention, we don't allow anything to take priority over these moments. I refuse to let the people I've been entrusted with get my "less" instead of my "best" because I'm distracted.
I'm so thankful God entrusted me with that small assignment to give Ken noise all those years ago. A little gift placed in the hands of a big God can change the world. It changed ours and it changed Ken's.
It's amazing to me that what started out as a simple gesture to help a grieving neighbor became one of the greatest ministry blessings of my life. And I've done a lot of breathing it all in ever since.
Dear Lord, help me see the assignments right in front of me. I desperately want to unrush my schedule so I can love those You have entrusted to me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY: 2 John 1:6, "And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love." (NIV)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What is one small assignment right in front of you that God is calling you to fulfill? Commit to begin living that out this week.
© 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
630 Team Rd., Suite 100
Matthews, NC 28105