January 30,2004

Encouragement for Today

 

God With Skin On

Mary Southerland

 

Key verse:

 

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13 (NIV)

 

 

Devotion:

 

A young man who had been raised as an atheist was training to be an Olympic diver. The only religious influence in his life came from his outspoken Christian friend. The young diver never really paid much attention to his friend's sermons, but he heard them often. One night the diver went to the indoor pool at the college he attended. The lights were all off, but since the pool had big skylights and the moon was bright, there was plenty of light for practice. The young man climbed up to the highest diving board and turned his back to the pool on the edge of the board, arms extended outward. It was then that he saw his shadow on the wall. The shadow of his body was in the shape of a cross. The man felt as if someone was speaking to him. The words of his Christian friend filled his mind. In his heart, he suddenly realized the truth. Instead of diving, he knelt down and finally asked God to come into his life. As the young transformed diver stood to his feet, a maintenance man walked in and turned on the lights. The pool had been drained for repairs.

 

I often wonder how many desperate people cross my path each day; people who are one step away from certain destruction; people whose very life direction can be changed by the Light of God in and through my interaction with them.

 

If you are like me, every day is crammed full of tasks, errands, deadlines, demands and activities. I run headlong through each twenty-four hours from the minute my feet hit the floor until I crawl into bed each night. It is in those quiet moments before sleep that I hear Him ask, "Did you make a difference today? Is someone closer to the Light because you told them about Me and what I have done in your life? Did you recognize that "intruder" or "interruption" as a divine appointment from Me? Does what you did today really matter?"

 

Sadly, I have to confess that many times I miss opportunities to participate in eternal business because I am so focused on earthly business. My agenda becomes my god and time management my idol. I could have been "God with skin on" to the frustrated cashier at the grocery store instead of brushing her aside because I was in a hurry to do something I deemed more important. I could have blessed the friend who called, needing an encouraging word instead of preaching an unsolicited sermon in the name of compassion. I could have taken a few more minutes to listen when the elderly man struck up a conversation with me at the gas pump instead of walking away, leaving him just as lonely as he was when we met.

 

Jesus would have done things differently. With every breath He was aware of the hurting and wounded, pursuing the broken people instead of avoiding them. His time was invested instead of spent and as a result, there has never been a life that made such a difference or mattered so much!

 

I want my life to really count, don't you? We are never more like God than when we are reaching out in love to meet a need, comfort a broken heart, encourage a weary soul or challenge the darkness with His Light! On your journey today, look for those desperate ones who need you to be God with skin on!

 

 

My prayer for today:

 

Father God, I confess to you that I am often too busy to hear your voice or determine your direction for my life. Please forgive me for being self-centered. Help me to see those who cross my path like you see them. Help me to love them with your love, drawing them from the darkness into the Light. Amen!

 

 

Application steps:

 

Look back over the past week. Make a list of those you ministered to and those you didn't. Beside each name write the reason you did or did not respond to these needs.

 

 

Reflection points:

 

Jesus had an unimaginable life plan to fulfill as Savior of the world. And yet, He took time for so many in need. Why do you think He responded this way?

 

What keeps us from recognizing the need in others?

 

What keeps us from reaching out to meet the needs we see in others?

 

Think back to a time when someone reached out to you. What was your reaction? How did their action affect you?

 

What difference can this simple awareness of hurting people make in our daily walk?

 

 

Power Verses:

 

John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.

 

Proverbs 27:6 Faithful are wounds of a friend.

 

Colossians 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

 

1 John 3:18 Let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.

 

Malachi 2:10 We are children of the same father, Abraham, all created by the same God.

 

 

Additional Resources:

 

Life Management for Busy Women by Elizabeth George
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/life.html

 

A Woman for the New Millennium by Mary Southerland
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/milleniumset.html