A Breath of Fresh Air

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So then faith comes by hearing … – Romans 10:17 (NKJV)

t took more than two months for me to get used to the CPAP machine. CPAP stands for “Continuous Positive Airway Pressure,” and I need it every night to keep me breathing. Without it, because of sleep apnea, the oxygen level in my blood wouldn’t be up to par, resulting in a constant fatigue that saps my joy of living.

But wearing a mask that covers my nose at night—even though it provides me with the air I need—took some getting used to. Once I did, though, I was able to sleep for several hours at a time, waking only once or twice through the night. The fatigue slowly dissipated.

But one night I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep. When sleep still evaded me after a bowl of cereal and a cup of Sweet Dreams tea, I asked the Lord, “Who am I to pray for?” Immediately the name of someone who’d been fighting a vicious recurrence of MS came to mind.

The next day I emailed my friend and told her of my midnight prayer. She responded that one night was particularly bad for her and she’d gotten little, if any, sleep. But she seemed to have turned a corner and, although still feeling weak, she felt the worst of the attack was now behind her.

I almost didn’t tell her of my midnight prayer session. I mean, aren’t we supposed to keep quiet about our good deeds, never letting our left hand know what our right hand is doing?

Nah. That verse is for those who do good only for the attention and praise it gets them. Letting my friend know I prayed for her and then getting her response that she’d needed prayer that night bolstered my faith.

Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do—build each other up and encourage one another? One way we do that is by telling how God met us in our time of need, often in the person of a friend or brother or sister in Christ. Each testimony we hear is like a breath of fresh air for our faith.

But how often do we hear such stories? Have we become too busy in our personal lives or too organized in our church life to take the time to give others the opportunity to tell of God’s grace?

I don’t know about you, but not hearing how God is working in the lives of others does to my spirit what sleep apnea does to my body. The result is spiritual fatigue and a shriveling of faith.

What we need is a CPAP for the soul—the frequent telling and hearing of Continuous Proof of Answers to Prayer. For “how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them?” (Romans 10:14 The Message)

Do you have a story to tell? Are you telling it?

I love to tell the story of unseen things above, of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love. I love to tell the story, because I know it’s true; it satisfies my longings as nothing else would do.*

Thank you, dear God, for giving me a story to tell. Let me never be ashamed or afraid to tell it, for only You know how badly someone else needs to hear it. Amen.

Read and reflect on Romans 10:14–17; Matthew 5:13–16.

*From “I Love to Tell the Story,” by Katherine Hankey (public domain)

© 2008 by Michele T. Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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.