Imagine a torrential downpour. The rain is coming down in sheets, wind whipping all around you. Thunder booms in the distance and flashes of lightning light up the sky. Now imagine a tent in a state park in New Jersey pitched in the middle of that downpour. Next I want you to imagine a family living in that tent. There are two children and a mother in there, the kids around seven or eight. The mother is in labor with their new sister. Her water breaks, and their father is on the way home from work. Now imagine that the rainwater begins to collect on the roof of the tent. It threatens to collapse under the weight of the pools. The eight-year-old boy has to push up on the roof of the tent in those spots to get the water to disperse, thereby saving his family from certain disaster.
According to the website, www.homelessnessinamerica.com, there are approximately 3.5 million homeless people in the United States. Of those, 1.35 million are children. Also of the 3.5 million, 23% are families with children. My sisters and I were once one of these statistics.
Over the weekend, my family and I went to see the movie Courageous. I must admit that I cried like a baby through probably half the movie. It had such a powerful message, and it made me want to become a better father and human being. God has an amazing plan for that one, I assure you. On the way home, we were listening to some contemporary Christian music on the MP3 player. Brandon Heath’s Give Me Your Eyes came on, and Caitlin, my 12-year-old, said it was one of her favorite songs. Since then, it’s really been playing over and over in my mind. I even described to my wife how I would direct the video to the song, having never seen it until this morning.
In the song, he asks for God’s eyes so that he can see the world as God sees it. If you watch it (I’ve attached it at the end of this post ), you’ll see that Brandon at first goes through a series of encounters without even glancing at the people around him. Then, as he receives God’s love for humanity, he notices the distress of some of the people in the airport…prompting him to act and help.
If you have tunnel vision, you can’t see past your bills, health issues, family issues, problems at your job, etc. And if you can’t see past them, you’ll completely miss the fact that God loves you and wants you to love those around you. That includes complete strangers as well as your family…
“And God has given us His Spirit as proof that we live in Him and He in us. Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent His Son to be the Savior of the world. All who confess that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in His love.
God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgement, but we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.
Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced His perfect love. We love each other because He loved us first.
If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And He has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their Christian brothers and sisters.”
1 John 5: 13-21
Whenever I see a homeless person, I always try to help out in some way…be it financially, or with a meal, or in the last case, a bus ticket back to Texas (thanks to my church family at Covenant ). I’ve been walking with friends down a street before and gave some money to a homeless man or woman who was pan-handling. They said to me that they were probably going to go buy dope or alcohol with that money. I said to them, “What if they weren’t? What if that man or woman had a family living in a box in an alley somewhere and truly needed the money?” That should hopefully give you pause the next time you see a beggar. The study guide brings up a good point…
“It’s easy to say we love God when that love doesn’t cost us anything more than weekly attendance at religious services. But the real test of our love for God is how we treat the people right in front of us- our family members and believers. We cannot truly love God while neglecting those who are created in His image.”
It took me awhile to get to the message this morning. Now that I have, I’m not so concerned about where the rent money will come from, or what we’re going to have for dinner tonight, or the health issues my wife is having, or…you get the picture. Instead, I’m focused more on my love for God and His love for me. It assures me that everything is going to be okay, for He works everything out according to His will. It also makes me want to go out and show someone I love them, starting with my wife and children.
I will make more time for my kids. I will take the time to tell my wife how much I adore her. I will look for opportunities to share God’s love with both believers and non-believers alike. My eyes are open and my heart is wanting. This is why we love.