Sunday morning I had another one of those God appointments.  I was running late for church because I had been planning for my first class at the college, and I wanted to finish a particular part of the plan while it was still fresh in my mind.  Consequently, I was not ready to take off for church when my family was, so they went on ahead while I finished with my task, then hurriedly rushed through my morning personal hygiene, shower, and dressing for church.  I thought that I was late, but in God’s timing, I was apparently right on time.  As soon as I parked in the church parking lot and walked up to the front of the church to enter, I encountered a young Hispanic woman who was carrying a baby in a car seat carrier and had two very active young children running around her on the church stoop.  I noticed right away a bewildered and stressed look on her face.  I smiled at her, and as I approached closer, she asked about where she should take her children so that she could attend the service.  I understood right away her confusion because the front door of our church opens into a vestibule, then another small vestibule, and then directly into the sanctuary.  The doors for both vestibules were propped open as they always are on Sunday, so as soon as the young woman opened the front door, she was staring directly into the packed sanctuary with the church service already in progress.

She had not proceeded any further, being a little embarrassed and confused that there didn’t seem to be any obvious way to proceed into the church and that there was no one immediately available to ask questions or direction without going directly into the service and risking embarrassment.  Our church usually does have people in the vestibule for just such situations, greeting and directing people, but because it was so late into the service, those people were no longer there.  But it didn’t matter, because I knew right away, that this was my intended job to help her.  I tried to soothe her right away and reassured her that I would take care of her.  I explained that the child care services were at the back of the church and that I would walk her ther to make sure that she was taken care of.  Additionally, I offered to carry the baby because I knew that the carrier had to be very heavy.  Plus by carrying the carrier, she was unable to give direct attention to the other two younger children.  So, I led the way on the walk around the church through the parking lot and into the back door, then to the desk in the basement at which was one of our church members, a very godly young woman, who then took charge of the situation, and walked the woman to the two different classrooms where her young children would be.  I stayed with the young woman and was still carrying the baby.  After her two children were situated, we all returned to the desk for some paperwork and an explanation of the baby care services; however, the young woman seemed to want to keep her baby with her.

Afterwards, I walked the young woman up to the sanctuary and over to a place in the back where she could be seated with her baby.  I knew that it was important that I walk in with her because, to a stranger, walking into a packed sanctuary can be pretty daunting, and a little embarrassing since everyone is seated, and they all would immediately notice and look at anyone entering the sanctuary at this late stage.  So I knew the comfort of having a friend with her that was familiar with everything would ease her discomfort and allow her to relax and enjoy the service.  Once she was seated, I walked around the back of the sanctuary to sit with my wife.  It was only a few minutes into the service when the poor woman’s baby started crying.  She was able to soothe the baby into quiet for a few minutes, then the baby was crying again.  My heart went out to her because I didn’t want her to be embarrassed at this quite normal event for a baby.  After a few more times of quiet and then the baby crying again, the service had finally ended.  I made a bee-line back over to the young woman, to see if she wanted to drop the baby off in child care so that she could enjoy a Sunday School class or sit through the second service since she had missed so much of the first service and had been distracted for the part that she did see.  This time, she seemed more willing to drop off the baby, and as God (not luck) would have it, another of the very godly young women of our church came over to where I and the young visitor were standing.  This godly woman is in charge of the baby care services on Sunday, so she was able to reassure the visitor that her baby would be well cared for, and she even explained to the visitor about our baby care services during the week that allow young mothers a few hours without their babies so that they can get a few things done or just have some relaxing peace (since we all know that, even though babies are a blessing, to a young adult, the care of babies can sometimes seem very stressful).  In any case, we soon had the visitor’s baby settled, and I walked her back up to the sanctuary where she could enjoy the entire second service in peace.

As I then left the woman and walked to my Sunday School, I thanked the Lord for an opportunity to show His love to a complete stranger  who was obviously in need, and knowing that I was well-equipped to help her, understanding all the problems of dealing with three very young children, an experience that I had been through many years ago.  God also reminded me that this is the kind of service that is well-pleasing to Him.  We are taught in James 1:22 that we are to be “doers of the word, and not hearers only.”  We are also taught later in that same chapter: “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).  So, a Christian walk that pleases God is to not only have a clean lifestyle that does not follow the habits of the world, but we are also to help those who need help, whomever they may be and whenever we might encounter them.   Additionally, we are taught in James 2:16 that this is more than just “lip service”:  “and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?”  So, we must have a full commitment to helping others, sacrificing our time and comfort, not just telling them what they can do to help themselves and not just giving money to charities that will help them.  True love will not just sympathize with them but will empathize as well and will make a physical effort to help them in some way, helping to “bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2)

I pray that God will open your eyes to such opportunities to help those in need wherever you may encounter them in life, that God will soften your heart so that you will feel compassion for them and their burdens, and that He would give you wisdom, words, and understanding of actions, showing you what to do when you encounter such people. 

 


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09/12/2014 3:47am

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    I'm a retired soldier, having spent 23 years of my life serving our country, actually 30 years when you count the reserve and National Guard time as well.  I believe in servant leaders, following the example of our Lord, and I believe in giving back to the troops once one has attained a certain status or level of success in life.  But I also believe in fighting back against corruption and incompetence wherever you find it if it hurts people.  Our national values were worth dying for.  They are also worth living for.  A man or woman can actually live a life by these principles of humility, service, love, duty, and honor, and have a significant impact on the world around them...if you have the dedication to see it through. 

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