This past spring break, my boyfriend and I worked with Lisa in Boston, cleaning and moving things in her house. Her apartment held more junk than I had ever seen in one place. I wanted the place gutted, wiped down from top to bottom. I was frustrated and even angry because of all of the filth and waste, the disregard for basic sanitation. Her apartment was filled with nasty junk, things she had absolutely no use for. But that was my perspective.
I realized, however, that understanding basic cleanliness was not the real issue. There was a moment when I watched Lisa pick up an old dusty backpack off the floor. She lovingly wiped off the dust and commented that it belongs to her daughter Rosa, the love of her life. As I later reflected on the day, the filth, my disgust and Lisa’s embrace of that backpack, I realized that the clutter in her apartment was not about stuff. All of her strewn belongings had her heart tied to them. They represented the few good things she had in this life. Lisa is so scared of having nothing that she hoards everything. I realized my need to be more sensitive, to recognize these things represented the hope she had relied on for years.
Isaiah 50:4 says, “The sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary.” Simply insisting that Lisa clean her house would not offer “a word to sustain” her. What Lisa needed was for me to probe her heart and her hurting soul, offering her my own heart of love. Jesus knew that the woman at the well’s real need was not the physical water she came to draw, but rather a heart overflowing with the living water only Jesus could supply. What sustaining word do the people around you need?
Study Romans 12. Pick one person in your life to pray for this week. Ask God how you can minister to his true needs rather than needs you have always perceived.
Dear Lord, thank You for the privilege of knowing others to whom we can show Your love. Help me to see real hurts, the real pain, the real longings of their souls.