The Lazarus at My Gate

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Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness… – Matthew 6:33 (KJV)     

“Global” seems to be the latest buzz word. You’ve got to think, speak, and act “globally.” No more the small-town mindset. Anyone who isn’t sophisticated, well-informed and technology-savvy just isn’t with it these days.

This global philosophy has infiltrated the Christian ranks, too. We’re to pray for the world, for the country, for worldwide missions, for people we don’t know and probably never will. Now, this isn’t bad. Someone needs to pray for world peace and missions.

There are those who can handle this information overload. I’m not one of them.

Quite frankly, it depresses me. I’m overwhelmed by prayer lists that grow longer and more disheartening by the day. I feel helpless when I read of a 101-year-old woman on her way to church who’s mugged by an addict who targets elderly women to get his drug money; of children and animals that are tortured and killed; of government officials who are more interested in playing politics, posturing, and pointing fingers than running the country; of misused money that was sent in good faith to alleviate others’ suffering.

Do I really need to know all this? My “global” prayers seem weak, bumbling, pat, and ineffective.

I keep thinking of the question God asked Moses, “What is that in your hand?” (Exodus 4:2) and the need to focus on what I have in my hand and do it well. I’m sensing the need to reach out to people around me who are hurting — something I’ve neglected because I’ve been too focused on the “global.”

But God has been saying, “Look to the Lazarus at your gate.” The older I get, the more people whom I know will be hospitalized, lose loved ones, experience crises. These are the Lazaruses at my gate. Yet I’ve insulated and isolated myself from my immediate world in pursuit of the global.

How many decades did Mother Teresa labor in the ghettos of India unnoticed? Now, this woman didn’t think globally. Yet her words resonate in my soul: “Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.”

When we focus too much on the global, we can overlook the people around us —family, neighbors, those we meet at church, in the store, at ballgames, and on the street — because we may think that ministering to them is too small.

But the globe is made up of folks like these, and if we each reached out and touched them, the ripples will be felt in all the world.                     

Dear God, open my eyes to the Lazarus at my gate today. Amen.

Read and reflect on Luke 16:19–31.

Wait ‘Til Your Father Gets Home

If you, O LORD, keep a record of sins, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness.  Psalm 130:3–4 NIV

“Wait ’til your father gets home” was not a threat I was able to use on my children. Their father, you see, was—and still is—a softy. I was the bad guy who doled out punishment and discipline.

But there was one time I was sure this easygoing husband of mine would crack and lose his temper with an errant, strong-willed, rebellious child.

One evening when my daughter was in high school, I’d taken her to the mall to do some school shopping. She’d just about finished when my aching feet drove me to the car to wait while she picked up some makeup. I waited. And waited. And waited. The mall was closing down and still no daughter. Where was she?

I returned to the store to find out. Well, she’d picked up some makeup, all right—and tried to get out of the store without paying.

I was beyond furious. How could she do something like this? How could she do this to me? I mean, after all, I was a Sunday school teacher and Bible club teacher, choir director, Christian writer. Wasn’t I supposed to have perfect Christian children? What would people say? What would they think of me? I’ll never forgive her for this! I vowed silently as I drove home, shaking with rage.

“When we get home,” I hissed, “you will tell your father what you’ve done.”

I sent her in ahead of me so I could try to calm down and give her time to tell him without me there. But when I walked in, the scene that greeted me was not what I’d had in mind. There, curled up in her father’s lap, was our remorseful child.

I was stunned. How could he open his arms to her after what she’d done? How could he forgive her just like that? At that moment I don’t know who I was madder at—her or him.

That was more than twenty years ago. Since then, our daughter has grown up to be quite the woman. While fulfilling her roles as wife and mother, she earned her teaching degree as a full-time student with close to a 4.0 GPA. Her college recognized her with its “Heart of Gold” award for her work with a support group for parents of autistic children. She’s now an awesome high school math teacher who asks to work with students who struggle with learning math because she, too, found math difficult when she was in high school.

It took me years before I recognized what I really saw that night when I walked in the house: a perfect picture of God’s unconditional love for us.

Thank You, Abba Father, that we can curl up in Your lap any time we need forgiveness. Amen.

Read and reflect on Luke 15:11–32.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea for the Seasons © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.