"There was a man walking by, coming from work..."
Out of context this verse seems random and of no consequence; a man had left work and was on his home. If it doesn't sound familiar and you're wondering what about Alexander and Rufus, just hold on - there's a bigger story being written.
Recent events in the news (the bombing at the Boston Marathon and the explosion in West, Texas) brought fresh horror into our living rooms. But even as I share the expression, "into our living rooms," like television broadcasters of time past once did, I realize that thought in itself is a dated expression. Televisions aren't just "in our living rooms" anymore; and as AT&T regularly promotes, with wireless connections, we can pick up our light and mobile flat screen and carry it anywhere we want! Our entertainment is no longer confined to a bulky furniture "center." Technology now allows a moveable feast (or horror) for viewing, recording, pausing or fast-forwarding for convenience.
We can be eye-witnesses from all angles; with videos from cell phones, security cameras on street corners, and news media poised for live coverage. Even in a crowd of thousands, terrorists can be identified and ultimately tracked down. There is no place to hide, there is no "random" passing stranger. Facebook has made us "friends."
"... Simon from Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus...."
Scripture doesn't leave our passerby anonymous. He's an African (Cyrene is identified as a city in Libya) named Simon, in Jerusalem with his sons. An "out-of-towner" like many present in Boston on the afternoon of the terrorist attack. He was in the crowd, just like so many were. He was watching, when...
"... They made him carry Jesus' cross." Mark 15:21 The Message
Simon, a worker, and a father, became a man enlisted to come alongside a crushed and broken Son on His way to Calvary. A bigger story was being written that day, a bigger story is being written today.
We might be on our way home from work, standing in a crowd at the Finish Line, or sitting at home a few hundred yards from a fertilizer storage facility; at any moment circumstances can "explode" and change our lives forever. But, the verse and the news serve as reminders, no matter where we are, the Lord can use us. He's been using you!
At times our individual life events might feel ordinary and random, but in the economy of the King, small efforts of service are not noted as "random acts of kindness" or "paying it forward." They are written in the Lamb's Book of Remembrance (Malachi 3:16).
Next week we'll head down near San Antonio, Texas to participate in our thirteenth Wounded Warrior Getaway (sponsored by Joni and Friends). I want to share what one of the Wounded Warriors (who's attended past events) recently communicated to me over several text messages and phone calls. You'll see just how critical this time for the soldiers and their families can be.
(Shared with permission):
"...I don't even have the words to describe the love I finally feel. Lately, I've felt so broken and such a disappointment to God and everyone else. I'm beginning to believe in God's unconditional love once again, and even though broken, He's there guiding me. Because of the deep love and care from all of you, this is one of the few times I feel I can beat this internal struggle and really believe in God's love and guidance for me. I'm starting to believe, maybe, just maybe, God has a beautiful and fulfilling plan for me...
There's a high probability that just being there for me, you have in fact saved my life...
...if I could pray for one thing and one thing only, it would be to have the positive impact on someone's life who was lost like me, and give them the love, the hope, and the undying belief in God's love as you have done for me... If I would die tomorrow, I would have a place in paradise because of you..." Retired Staff Sergeant (name withheld for privacy)
YOUR faithful prayers and financial gifts to the ministry of Sunshine After Rain help make it possible for us to disciple, support and encourage the body of believers at home and around the world long after an "event" or "mission" is over.
YOU made a positive impact on a wounded warrior's soul, one that gave hope for today and assurance for eternity.
YOU are bearing the burden's of those who are broken and bleeding of Spirit. They may be trapped in Third-world poverty, or First-world spiritual famine. YOU are "feeding His sheep."
YOU are not unknown or unaccounted for.
"With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground and don't hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for Him is a waste of time or effort." 1 Corinthians 15:58 The Message
There's a bigger story being written,
It makes me smile
In His service
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