Kia ora everyone. Rob here.
We seem to live in a world where people want something from us all the time. Another ‘deal’ has arrived in my inbox. Do these people know how quickly it goes to trash? Advertisers are one thing, but there’s a whole number of worthwhile things as well. Mission organisations making a real difference, charities for great causes, activists preventing real acts of injustice, local organisations caring for the lonely, the sick and the fragile, friends needing help and on it goes. How do we maintain compassion and empathy, while also discerning where to put our efforts, our time and our money? The answer is, of course, we need to walk with God. But what does that look like in this space?
We are all uniquely shaped and our empathy and compassion is also shaped uniquely. This is how God ensures that people’s needs are met. Thus, the first question is what’s in our hearts? What causes grab you? What makes you angry? What brings tears to your eyes? What leads you to you find out more information? What do you find yourself talking about or in arguments about? Those dimensions that exist in our hearts are one clue.
Another clue is what’s in your hand? You may have time on your hands, in which case, volunteering somewhere is an excellent option. You may be time poor but financially well-off, in which case, make a difference with your money. You may be good in the kitchen, in which case, make meals and bake cakes. You may be a handyman/woman, in which case, practical help for the needy may be you. You may simply be kind, in which case, help in a way that puts you alongside people. We all have different gifts and abilities and God wants us to use them.
There’s also the question of what’s on our plate? What else is going on in our life? It may be that your compassion needs to be directed to your family at this moment as they face hard times. It could be that work is asking a lot of you so this is a season to knuckle down and do that. You may be both time poor and literally poor, and so, having compassion on yourself is a hard task. In saying that, we are generally better off when we’re giving out in some capacity. Is there a small, but valuable, thing you could do?
As we ponder what’s on our hearts, in our hands and on our plate, we need to recognise that this is merely an offering. We’re asking to be known, but we also need to give God permission to direct our paths as he’s the one who knows where our hearts and the worlds needs meet. For many people, their calling has come about in unpredictable ways. God led them in unexpected directions. Knowing our hearts, our gifts and our schedules doesn’t give us the right to tell God what we should be doing, but invites God to help us see the possibilities of our own lives. God wants us to make a difference, but in partnership with his Spirit, and surrendered to his will. Ultimately, it’s our willingbness to be led by God’s Spirit what makes the difference. It enables us to God’s will in God’s way in God’s strength, thus revealing God’s love.
As we enter into this lifelong conversation I pray that we’ll gain the compassion of Christ and never stop being motivated by his love for all.
Grace and peace.