Steve Brines – Ahwatukee Campus Student Pastor
I recently had the opportunity to travel with a team from the church to Northeast Africa for nine days. The objectives of this trip were: to learn about the region and culture, to engage with nationals in a way that helps change the negative views they may have of Americans, to be an encouragement to those we meet.
Those aren’t in-depth goals with detailed strategies that we could accomplish and then move on from. Opportunities to achieve these goals must be identified and taken advantage of as they naturally surface, rather than fabricated and forced to fit into our daily schedule. To do this, we had to plan to be interrupted, and at times, STOP and interrupt ourselves.
On our way back to our vans one day after visiting a local tourist spot, a teammate stopped to pray with a young girl selling bookmarks. She had been walking and talking with our group for a while, so she was comfortable enough to say yes to his request. You could tell she wasn’t used to this practice and may not have fully understood its power, at least not at this point in her life.
The ability to STOP and notice the unnoticed was a skill Jesus was a master at. An example of this skill in Matthew 20:29-34 recently challenged me.
29 As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. 30 Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”
31 The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”
It would have been easy and acceptable for Jesus to keep on going, a response the two blind men would have been used to. But then come the two amazing words: JESUS STOPPED.
32 Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. 33 “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.” 34 Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.
Jesus regularly took time out of his schedule for unnoticed people because he was moved with compassion for them. I don’t know how the life story will go for the girl selling bookmarks, but imagine if someday in heaven she runs up and gives us a huge hug, telling us her life has never been the same since the day we took time to pray for her. Opportunities to show compassion to others like this exist all around us everyday.
Our greatest impact is often buried in between the lines of to-do lists and schedules. The challenge for us is to stop long enough to discover it.