Monday, November 10, 2014

Our compassionate God

On Sunday David had the opportunity to preach at our church in the village. He chose to preach about the passage from Luke 10:25-37. It was his first time preaching, and he was a bit nervous, but he did a wonderful job. He talked with the congregation about the questions of who is our neighbor, what does it mean to love our neighbor, and why Jesus used this parable, to show us our inability to earn our own righteousness. He reminded us that in the parable, we are like the person in the ditch, helpless and dying, and Jesus came and sacrificed himself to save us. Actually Scripture says we are dead in our sins, not just dying, but parables only carry the analogy so far. When we realize that there is no way we can justify ourselves, but that Jesus saved us at great personal expense, this changes our heart when we see another person equally helpless. It was a very good sermon, encouraging God's people with the love of Jesus, and encouraging them to live out that love with their "neighbors" even if it happens to be someone who is more like an enemy.

One of the things that I have always loved about my husband is that he is a compassionate man. He knows that he has received grace and mercy and wants to show that to those around him. Not all the time and not perfectly, but it is one aspect of the way God is shaping his character that I absolutely love! Since a young age he has particularly had a soft heart toward the needs of widows. As a teenager, he would help the widows in his neighborhood with gardening or mowing the grass. A few months back, we began driving to church instead of walking so that we could offer a ride to a widow who is in poor health and cannot walk to church. Soon we realized that some of the GSF kids with special needs also were not going to church because their wheelchairs cannot make it through the narrow walking path. Since God has provided us with a van that can carry wheelchairs on top, we are able to drive these kids too. When I told David how I appreciated his work every Sunday loading and unloading the kids and their chairs, he had a funny reply. He said, "Having a small inconvenience to make it possible for some handicapped orphans to go to church seems like a no-brainer." We laughed a bit realizing how this is obviously something God would want us to do, not just because of the needs of these kids, but because of the way God has had that type of love and compassion toward us at a great inconvenience to Himself.

Since God has blessed us with generally reliable transportation, and since most of the people around us do not have that convenience, we often stop to offer a ride to people on the side of the road. We usually stop for either an elderly woman or a woman carrying a child. Sorry men, you can walk. Today, we had a "fall break" of sorts, which is just a day off of school to take care of some other important things. We were planning to drive to Jinja to run several errands, get lunch, use internet, and take care of some things related to building the house. Soon after we turned out of the GSF driveway, we saw a woman carrying a child, walking. We pulled over to see if she needed a ride somewhere. I got out to ask her "Ogenda wa?" (Where are you going?), but as I stepped out I immediately saw that something was terrribly wrong. She was wailing and carrying a child who was maybe 4 or 5 years old. At first I thought the child was dead. The child was limp and her eyes were open, but completely empty. But then some friends from the village came over to her and began rubbing onion all over the child's face to see if they could bring her to consciousness. She eventually came to, but was very limp and barely conscious. In the midst of the gathering crowd, I offered to drive them to the hospital. After a bit of brief discussion in 2 or 3 languages, some of the people in the village who have become my friends told me to take her to the nearest hospital. David drove like an ambulance driver as fast as was reasonably possible to get this child to the hospital. As we arrived, I was struck by how many people there were in similar situations. I have been to this hospital several times and each time my heart breaks for the people there. We were able to make sure this child was seen received testing and treatment quickly, prayed with them as best as I could in Luganda, and then we left them in the care of the doctors and nurses there.

It was interesting how God gave us an opportunity the very next day to live out what David had been teaching about. One thing that his sermon reminds me, is that caring for people in need is not earning for us our own righteousness. As I thought of all the people in need there, I realized that there was no way, we could help everyone. I also realized that we had only a mild inconvenience to take this woman and child to the hospital, but Jesus gave his own life for us.He died so that he could save you and me. Any little expression of his mercy is simply what we want to do as people who have been rescued from the ditch. Just moments before seeing this woman and child, I had been irritable with my family, and lacked love and compassion with them. I know that on my own, I fail to love often. I cannot keep the law and earn my own righteousness, but Jesus has rescued me, has declared that I am righteous, and has graciously given us opportunities to live out a small picture of his love to those around us. Please pray for this woman and her child. I don't even know their names. But our compassionate God does!

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