“On the question of relating to our fellowman – our neighbor’s spiritual need transcends every commandment. Everything else we do is a means to an end. But love is an end already, since God is love” – Edith Stein.
God created us to live in community with one another. We are all souls created in His image. He uses others to guide us and light the path beneath our feet – a path that leads back to the foot of the cross, a place of love. In Home, Daughtry sums it up well with, “The miles are getting longer, it seems, the closer I get to you. I’ve not always been the best man or friend for you. But your love it makes true and I don’t know why. You always seem to give me another try. So I’m going home, back to the place where I belong and where your love has always been enough for me. I’m not running from, no, I think you got me all wrong; I don’t regret this life I chose for me. But these places and these faces are getting old. So I’m going home.”
Last week I had the chance to speak with a mentor and friend from 35 years ago. She is a woman of great wisdom, patience and insight who has a keen understanding of long-term investment. In my formative years, she spent a lot of time imparting lessons on me that she knew very well I didn’t understand. Nonetheless, she passed the information on with the determination to prepare me for my future, holding out hope that understanding would come. Although my talents and gifting seemed light years away from coming together, she knew that time would pass quickly and seemingly in the blink of an eye, God would put those pieces together with dime-size precision. When I look in the rear view mirror at that part of my journey, I see an assertive but confused little person, caught up in the fog of war, who lacked the ability to discern the Commander’s intent. Having figuratively and literally been through war, she saw an enterprising pre-teen who would go on to do great things.
Our conversation was both intimate and inspiring. As she did years ago, she repeated last week. She filled my basket with more than I could consume in the moment, knowing that I would use it to feed the future. Specifically, she reminding me that:
- Hope is a necessary virtue.
- Nothing here is ours.
- The Lord gives quiet assistance.
- My only cut card is love.
- We need time with Him to sustain working for Him.
- Do not concern yourself with what you may lose when there is so much to gain.
By the end of our conversation, I realized we were no longer the old lady and the girl, but rather two friends from different generations sharing similar experiences. Her patience with me as a child taught me that there is something deeper than disagreement. Her insights and experiences shared with me as an adult made me know there is something beautiful in connection. Proverbs 3:13-18 tells us, “You’re blessed when you meet Lady Wisdom, when you make friends with Madame Insight. She’s worth far more than money in the bank; her friendship is better than a big salary. Her value exceeds all the trappings of wealth; nothing you could wish for holds a candle to her. With one hand she gives long life, with the other she confers recognition. Her manner is beautiful, her life wonderfully complete. She’s the very Tree of Life to those who embrace her. Hold her tight—and be blessed!” (MSG)
My reflection on the conversation drove home the notion that life’s journey is not a series of unplanned disjointed twists and turns, trips and blunders, setbacks and disappointments, triumphs and victories, and achievements and successes. Instead, it is a highly planned, coherently organized movement of people, places, and things, designed to bring us back to Him. God uses the bumps to slow us down and redirect us and the open-country road to build us up and encourage us. Ellie Holcomb in The Broken Beautiful says it so well: “I’m better off when I begin to remember how You have met me in my deepest pain. So give me glimpses now of how You have covered all of my heart ache, oh with all Your grace. Remind me now that You can make a way. That Your love will never change, that there’s healing in your name; that You can take broken things, and make them beautiful. You took my shame and You walked out of the grave. So Your love can take broken things and make them beautiful. You say that You’ll turn my weeping into dancing; remove my sadness & cover me with joy. You say your scars are the evidence of healing; that You can make the broken beautiful.”
Life is not a linear, even-paced walk. We will stumble into the valley as much as we walk on the mountaintop. When the going gets rough and forward progress seems like an impossibility, God doesn’t just tell us to find a way. He makes one for us. He places teachers, mentors, and sponsors on our path; people who light the way, hold our hands, sing praises of encouragement, and show us that “it” can be done. He places them there to soothe our misplaced aggression, bandage our bruises, lighten our spirits, and give us wings to fly.
Like my teacher and friend (and her mentor), we are all built to be blessings to one another. So get going! Soar high and generously sprinkle His love on everyone you encounter. Be a Godly teacher, mentor, or sponsor and friend in your next human engagement. Share your story of God’s love and grace with those you meet. Do so and your actions will teach people this: “I am Lady Wisdom, and I live next to Sanity; Knowledge and Discretion live just down the street. The Fear-of-God means hating Evil, whose ways I hate with a passion — pride and arrogance and crooked talk. Good counsel and common sense are my characteristics; I am both Insight and the Virtue to live it out. With my help, leaders rule, and lawmakers legislate fairly; With my help, governors govern, along with all in legitimate authority. I love those who love me; those who look for me find me. Wealth and Glory accompany me — also substantial Honor and a Good Name. My benefits are worth more than a big salary, even a very big salary; the returns on me exceed any imaginable bonus. You can find me on Righteous Road — that’s where I walk — at the intersection of Justice Avenue, Handing out life to those who love me, filling their arms with life—armloads of life!” (Proverbs 8:12-21 – MSG). Thank you, my friend!