When I was 12 years old a new show came on called “Touched by an Angel.” Some of you remember it well. In the show a trio of angels travel to Earth and visit people at various crossroads in their lives. Tess, a more experienced angel (played by Della Reese), assigns Monica (played by Roma Downey) and sometimes Andrew (who is the Angel of Death), to a case in each episode, usually with an eye not only toward helping the person, but to drive home a lesson to the angel as well.
Even before I started watching this show, I had a desire to be an angel that helped people when I died. Yes, I know this is a bit morbid for a young child… The show fed this dream. It seemed amazing that an angel could change a life so completely in 30 minutes or less. But I’m learning from all of you that most “angelic” interventions this side of heaven would make for a lousy sitcom.
Here are some other things I’ve been learning from all of you about how to make a difference in the lives of others:
1. Helping people takes longer than 23 minutes and it’s a lot messier. I don’t remember if the show was a half hour or an hour, but however long it was, the producers built the storyline of a crisis and then the intervention of the angel and wrapped it all up by the end of the show. Helping people takes a lot more time. Sure, there are occasional opportunities to help people that don’t take a long time, but if you really get to know someone and what their needs are, a lot more time (and other resources) are required.
2. Sometimes people aren’t grateful. On the show, the people who were helped were always overflowing with gratitude. In real life, people often are not only ungrateful, but rude and sometimes even cruel. Helping others for the “thank you” usually disappoints. This is why actually Jesus followers are capable of making such meaningful differences in the world. Most of us don’t help others for the “thank you,” we serve because we understand that Christ served us first.
3. We aren’t TV angels. We don’t have a “boss angel” to tell us who to go help and what to do to help them. Also, these angels had one job – the one assigned. They did not have to maintain a budget, nurse a cold, organize an outreach program, figure out childcare, or mow their lawn. All of us could be amazing “angels” if we shared those circumstances.
I could go on, but I think you get what I’m saying. Orchard Covenant is FULL of people who love and serve others over and over again on a regular basis. And each time you help, it usually takes far more than 23 minutes and far more of your own resources: financial, driving, doing social work, paperwork, having hard conversations, or just being a friend. I believe God sees you. Pastor Nick and I SEE you and we are learning from you. We see how you love, support over and over. We are humbled by your faithfulness to one another and the ways you spend yourselves for those God has placed in your life.
I can’t help but think of Matthew 25:40 and following, where Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
I know that is why you do it. You love Jesus so much. You have gotten so close to Jesus over the years, you know that the best way to serve Him, is to love the ones that for whatever reason have need.
Thank you. Be encouraged. Practice self care and healthy boundary setting.. When your cup is empty, retreat so you can restore. You are precious in His sight.
So much love and care to you!
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