Throwing the change from my pockets in the Salvation Army bucket on the way out of Kroger’s usually makes me feel….. Well pretty good (about mySELF).
Writing checks to good causes makes me feel even BETTER about mySELF.
And the photos of mySELF surrounded by special needs children (especially those of a different race/color than my own), on a mission trip I attended, will SOME day make it into a scrap book, so that my grandchildren will someday know what a great “servant” their Grandma was.
I didn’t realize how PROUD of myself I was until a couple of months ago.
That’s when I “served” (oh, there I go again!) on a Prayer Team at the Passion Conference in Atlanta, with a young man named Jonathan. We were often on different shifts, and so most of our prayers together were said as we held hands and prayed over and for each other. We’d been Facebook friends for 4 years, so I knew enough about Jonathan to know he had a TRUE servant’s heart, one that brought him year after year, wherever the event was held, to each of the Passion Conferences.
Jonathan is living with a disease called arthrogryposis. (I say “living with” because one would NEVER know he is suffering). But I know, this has GOT to make it difficult to travel from his home in Delaware, since he gets around in a wheelchair. I stress each year over finding the most comfortable SHOES to walk around in, and I worry about how badly my back will hurt after so many trips up and down the stadium stairs. But Jonathan finds a way to get up and down, and all around the event without any complaints. In fact, he even gets up before everyone else so that he can go outside in his wheelchair, and pray over and for the Passion team and the people in the city of Atlanta.
The most impressive thing about Jonathan, to me, however, is his heart. Something he did one morning before prayer, has made an impression on me, and had me examine many of my heart’s true motivations, ever since this most recent Passion Conference. I’d like to share it with you, because if you’re anything like me, (and I bet you are), you could learn something from this too.
The final morning of the conference, the Prayer team was to meet in our suite at Philip’s Arena. I left a little bit earlier in order grab some breakfast and coffee in the food court, and ran into Jonathan. He had just purchased an entire breakfast meal for a homeless man. “How sweet!” I thought. I already had mine on a tray, and Jonathan was going back for a second time to stand in line, in order to get his OWN breakfast. Yes, that’s right. He fed the homeless man BEFORE he thought about his own hunger.
Okay, so AGAIN, if you’re anything like me, (and AGAIN, I betcha you are), you’re thinking, “yeah, okay, I’ve fed a few homeless people.” Right?
Yeah, well – me too. But, don’t get too, too impressed with yourself yet, (like me).
Jonathan and I decided to eat together that morning. I told him I’d wait for him to get his breakfast, and asked him, “Where do you want to sit?” He looked at me and said, “Right here.” He said it so matter-of-fact, as if the thought of sitting anywhere else never crossed his mind!
Right HERE? At the table with the homeless man who smells like whiskey and filth? I wanted so badly to say, “But Jonathan, he SMELLS REALLY BAD! He is FILTHY!” The thought of eating ANYWHERE else other than with that man, never, ever crossed Jonathan’s mind.
“Wasn’t buying his breakfast enough?” I thought.
I sat down and waited for Jonathan. I ate breakfast surrounded by empty tables, sitting next to that homeless man. And all I could think of was that most of my “serving” is really only doing “just enough” to be impressed with my so-called “servant’s heart,” right? Jesus would not have bought that homeless man a breakfast and then sat at a different table. He would have done EXACTLY what Jonathan did. He would have sat down right next to him and enjoyed breakfast with him.
And if you ARE just like me, then I am so glad to share my friend Jonathan’s story with you, and I hope it will move you, as it has me, to examine your heart behind the things you “do for the Lord.”
If you are shaking your head and thinking how awful it is that I would not have thought to sit with the homeless man…………. Well, I challenge you as well.
The Bible says that our hearts are “deceitful” and “desperately wicked” all of the time.
If you would like to learn more about arthrogryposis, click here: https://www.amcsupport.org/
Thank you, Jonathan. Thank you for being the “hands and wheels” of Jesus that morning. Thank you for allowing yourself to be used in a way that makes others grow – others like ME! Thank you for being obedient, and allowing God to use you, to stretch the hearts of people like me, so that I might become a little less focused on being so proud of mySELF! (and a lot more genuine when I “serve,” at focusing instead on pointing people to Christ)!
Jonathan, I know that sometimes, you feel insignificant. But young man, you are so very, very significant to not only those who know and love you, but to your Father in heaven as well. He’s proud of you, and so am I.