Today is a special guest post,
written by my husband (and very talented writer!) Shawn.
A funny thing happens when you give two people one of those eye trick pictures to look at. They always see two different things. There’s the one where one person sees a table and the other person sees two faces, or the one where someone sees a young woman, and someone else sees an old woman. I never saw the old woman until someone showed me the outline about five years ago. It was enlightening, and I’ve never looked at that picture the same.
Making this a bit more personal, I have a perspective problem. Not so much in the sense of whether or not I see a table or two faces, but in the sense of how I see myself obeying God. God asks us to keep our perspective small, I want to keep my perspective large. He tells me that what I do for the least of these, I do for Him. I say that if I can do it for a bunch of the least of these, that’s where I do for Him. There’s His perspective, and my perspective. My guess is that one of us is wrong, and I’m pretty sure it’s not Him.
Jesus had two different sides to his ministry, and they both served a purpose. There was the big, where he taught on the side of a mountain, fed 5000, and taught in the synagogues. These were all a huge part of what made Jesus who he was. His ability to capture a room, and in Matthew 7:29 it talks about the authority in which He spoke, saying:
“for He taught with real authority–quite unlike their teachers of religious law.”
There was also the private, one on one ministry that Jesus had. There were the 12 disciples, there was Peter’s redemption, the man at the pools of Bethesda, the woman at the well, and the woman caught in adultery. These were moments of true compassion by Jesus to get down on the level of someone who was hurting, and help them to begin to heal.
The interesting thing about both of these, is we don’t hear about what happens afterwards. We never find out about the woman at the well, we never hear more about the man at the pools, except that Jesus briefly talks to him afterwards and tells him in John 5:14 “See, you are well now. Stop sinning so that something worse does not happen to you.” We also don’t hear any more about the woman caught in adultery. There’s no chapter in the Gospels that talks about how many people followed Jesus after he fed the five thousand. These were incidents that potentially had a profound effect on the lives of those people, but we hear nothing more about them.
Fast forward 2000 years and here we are. Jesus still works through both the big and the small. For me personally, while he tends to ask me to work in the small, I never find it’s good enough. Over the course of my life, I have always wondered whether or not I made a difference to someone else in the moments God asked me to help them. It’s one of my biggest stumbling blocks. I have always believed that if I can make a difference to many people at a time, then I’m being used by God. I often fail to see how God can, and HAS, used me in the small, the mundane, and to me, what seems insignificant. One night at Hannah’s dance, I was asked to hold someone’s son for a few minutes so she could use the restroom. To me it seemed small, and not a big deal, but to this mom, it could have been the only break she got from a little boy who could have been crying all day.
Growing up, I was often the one who my friends would come to when they were in need of a good listening ear. We would talk, and they would move on with life. Words were never spoken afterwards about the conversation we had, even though I spent many hours wondering if I really did anything to help them.
The reality of scripture is this: He calls us to love one another. Love the individuals that He brings across your path, one person at a time. My sin, my failure, my demon, says that the one person doesn’t matter. It only matters if I can help ten at a time, or twenty at a time… not one.
I’ve heard it a hundred times of love one another, but I don’t always take the step of doing it. Selfishly, helping twenty people at a time makes me more important. That serves me. Helping the individual, that serves the individual, and is obeying Jesus. That shows the love of Jesus. The difficulty for me comes in not knowing the effect I may have had on the one person. Call me human, but I like to know that what I did made a difference.
We unfortunately don’t get the divine power of Jesus to know what happened to the individuals He helped. They may have walked away from Jesus and gone back to their old lives. We just don’t know. I would prefer to look at each situation and believe that their single exchange with Jesus created a life changing effect.
All this being said, I don’t think it’s wrong to want to know the effect you have on someone when you help them, but I do think it’s wrong to expect it. God calls us to serve, and to obey, no matter what the cost. No matter whether or not you find out if you made a difference. For me, my call to obey is to simply serve the one, without knowing the possible result, and let go of the need to serve the twenty.
Here’s to making a difference one person at a time.
© Kelly Sundsvold and kellysundsvold.com, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kelly Sundsvold and kellysundsvold.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content