Over the weekend my friends and I went downtown to do a photo-shoot for my blog. We always turn it into a fun, photo adventure to practice using our cameras and to help me get new photos to use on the blog. We were standing near a popular photo spot in an alley way, when we heard a woman hysterically crying as she was walking down the sidewalk. I immediately tensed up because I wasn't sure what was about to happen. My first thought was run away/ hide and my second thought was is this real or a scam to take our stuff. I know I need more compassion (I'm working on this), but growing up in the city my first thought, sadly, isn't always to help. She asked my friends where the hospital was, but she was so upset she could hardly get the name of it out. She was looking for UAB hospital so I finally spoke up and told her how to get there from where we were standing on the sidewalk. My friend then asked if we could pray for her and asked what to pray for. She told us she had been raped and had been given a disease so she was going to the hospital to get medicine. My heart broke. I was still hesitant at this point, but I realized more than anything she needed Jesus so we prayed for her (keeping our eyes open to watch our surroundings). She was very thankful for the prayers and she never asked us for money or for anything other than directions. Then we watched as she made her way down the road towards the hospital.
If I'm being transparent with you, I struggle with these types of encounters. I have the gift of discernment, but in these situations I'm always hesitant because of some scary encounters downtown Cincinnati as a kid. We are currently in a season of 21 days of prayer at my church and I've been praying for boldness and divine appointments. Our pastor even talked about sharing Jesus with others that morning and yet I still struggled to love this woman who interrupted our comfortable lives. However, that's the thing, we aren't meant to live comfortable lives. We are meant to live our lives sharing God's love and building his Kingdom with everyone. When the woman with the issue of blood touched the hem of Jesus' garment, he didn't hesitate, he didn't question her motives, he just loved her and honored her faith (Matthew 9:20-22). While I know we always need to use wisdom in any situation, I realized I still needed to change my heart towards these types of encounters where it's uncomfortable and unknown. I needed to show more kindness and compassion the way that Jesus would do. If that woman's story was completely honest, which I believe it was, then she really needed the hope of Jesus- especially in that moment. And if we had just ignored her and gone about our way, how much more hurt and rejected would she have been to not even be noticed. I don't know all the answers, but I do know that God creates divine encounters and moments with people. And while we always need to use wisdom and be aware of our surroundings, we also need to be bold to provide the hope of Jesus and love people.
There's a prayer by Sir Francis Drake that really challenges me, it says, "Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves, when our dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little, when we arrived safely because we sailed too close to the shore. Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess we have lost our thirst for the waters of life; having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity and in our efforts to build a new earth, we have allowed our vision of the new Heaven to dim. Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas where storms will show your mastery; where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars. We ask you to push back the horizons of our hopes; and to push into the future in strength, courage, hope, and love."
There's a phrase that I've heard recently and it's stuck with me- seeking discomfort. We live comfortable lives for the most part and most of us don't like to go outside our comfort zones. But I've realized the miracles don't happen in our comfort zone, but rather the miracles happen in the mess. They happen when we seek uncomfortable situations whether it's talking to that person sitting by themselves or praying for that person on the street or being bold enough to share the gospel with someone you work with, the list could go on. Whatever it may be, that's where the miracles take place and that's where we see God move in ways we never thought imaginable. It's something I constantly have to work on, especially as an introvert, but it's something I pray for God to challenge me in as I live my life for him.
I hope you'll pray that prayer too and that you'll seek discomfort. I hope you won't be satisfied in the comfortable parts of life, but will venture outside your circle to make an impact for the kingdom. Pray for wisdom and discernment and pray that God will lead you to divine encounters to share his hope. We have to make the most of our time and share his love as much as possible. Especially now with all the hurt and brokenness and division in our world. We need to create unity, be the light and provide the hope of Jesus now more than ever! I hope we never lose the wonder and that we see God's hand moving in everyday situations.
Father, I pray that you will embolden me to share your love and hope with others. That you will help me to go outside my comfort zone to reach who you've called me to reach. I pray you will help me to dream bigger dreams and to have divine appointments with others. I pray that you will give me wisdom and discernment. I pray that you will always protect me and surround me while you lead and guide me to reach the unreached. I pray that you will give me the words to say through the Holy Spirit. Thank you God for choosing me, it's a privilege to serve you! In Jesus name, amen.