. . . that i might live for thee. as i prayed this morning, i thought of the great kindness of the people we've encountered in our travels in the upper mid-west. we have not had to deal with one person who has been rude to us. having grown up with the myth of southern hospitality, the genuine kindness of every person with whom we've spoken has been a revelation. we southerners could learn a great deal from these folk here who have a true concern for our well being that goes beyond simple courtesy.
in the back of my mind the refrains of two old hymns began playing. one says, in a halting rhythm that lingers over the word "others,"
" 'others, Lord, yes, others'
let this my motto be.
help me to live for others
that i may live for Thee."
the other has a similar message:
"make me a blessing,
make me a blessing,
out of my life may Jesus shine.
make me a blessing,
o, Savior, i pray.
make me a blessing to someone today."
the words may not all be exactly right, because i'm relying entirely on my memory of hymns from my childhood that are hardly ever heard now. it struck me that these were the central beliefs i was taught as a child. they were what being a christian was all about then, and for me, these beliefs are still the core of being a follower of Jesus. in today's church, it seems that the idea of "being Jesus" to others has taken a distant back seat to discussions of abstract theology and arguments over how to achieve church growth.
in our brief stopover in chicago, i had a conversation with a homeless man. it was rainy and cold, but we were inside the restroom of a restaurant away from the elements. we talked about how he manages during the bitterness of chicago's winters and how much he was looking forward to summer. he was courteous and clean, and i would never have suspected that he lived on the streets from his manner and appearance, and, perhaps, he was only scamming me. as we ended our conversation, i wished him well and told him i hoped that warm weather was just around the corner. later, i wondered why i had not offered him a meal. there we were in a "high-end" fast food restaurant, and my wife and i had just enjoyed a delicious warm meal. why had i been so focused on our need to continue on our journey that i failed to address this man's need?
my prayer for myself and you this morning is that each of us will have a genuine concern for the needs of those that are placed in our paths this day, that we will look for ways to serve and bless them, that we will be concerned with being kind to others, even when those others are not focused on our needs.