A COMPASSIONATE HEART

When your children were young, did they ever have an accident that resulted in a broken bone, or perhaps a burn or a sprain?  Often the injury is the result of some foolishness on the child’s part.  Perhaps the child is doing something that he/she knows they should not do, or perhaps he/she is taking a shortcut through an area that is dangerous, or perhaps he/she decides to try flying! 

But, the cause is not relevant to the pain in the parent’s heart!  When your child is injured, that hurt, while not physical, brings such pain to your heart that it is as if you had sustained the injury too.

Child's cast
Child’s cast for his broken leg.

When dealing with the immediate aftermath of the injury, the focus is necessarily on getting help, treating the wound, stemming the tears and insuring no further harm is experienced.  And, while this is going on, compassion is enabling us to handle things that we never dreamed we could.

Compassion – sympathy, empathy, commiseration, feeling, pity, tenderness.  This is just one of the emotions we feel when someone we love is injured.  Compassion frequently expresses itself in an anguished cry on behalf of the one who is, or will be, experiencing pain.

Jesus is known for His compassion as is evidenced in the Gospels, for example, when He fed the 5,000 people who came to remote locations to hear Him teach. 

“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.”

Mark 6:34 NIV

Jesus’ compassion expressed itself by an anguished cry in the book of Luke, when He was on His way to Jerusalem, the city in which He would stand trial and be crucified.  As He was on the road to the city, Jesus said:

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”

Luke 13:34

The compassion of our God is evidenced throughout Scripture, both Old and New Testaments.  Consider Moses’ discourse to the Israelites as he recounted what happened during the wilderness years.  In Deuteronomy 5:27 Moses reminds the people of their promise to do all that God said, and then he tells them what God said to him in response to the people’s promise:

“’Go near and hear all that the LORD our God will say and speak to us all that the LORD our God will speak to you, and we will hear and do it.’ And the LORD heard your words, when you spoke to me. And the LORD said to me, ‘I have heard the words of this people, which they have spoken to you. They are right in all that they have spoken.  Oh that they had such a heart as this always, to fear me and to keep all my commandments, that it might go well with them and with their descendants forever!  Go and say to them, “Return to your tents.” But you, stand here by me, and I will tell you the whole commandment and the statutes and the rules that you shall teach them, that they may do them in the land that I am giving them to possess.'”

Deuteronomy 5:27-31

God chose His people and loves them as a Father.  In verse 29, you can almost hear the anguish when God said, “Oh that they had such a heart as this always”.  God’s compassionate heart screamed the desire that His people would be loyal and devoted to His worship and that they would obey His commands.   He wanted it to “go well with them and with their descendants forever” and such would be the case if they were obedient, if they would make good on their promise of that day!  But He also knew that this would not happen!

Punishment is forgotten when the injury occurs.  Fix the injury, then consider  the punishment.  In Israel’s case, their punishment was wandering in the wilderness for 40 years and, later in their history, captivity and removal to Babylon, all because of disobedience.

How like the Old Testament folk we are.  We read Scripture and say that we will do what it says.  But, like our New Year’s Resolutions, slowly but surely, we forget about the words of Scripture as the things of everyday life push it out of our minds and schedules.  We want to do what God says, but we just can’t seem to pull it off.

It is for this reason that Jesus Christ was born, lived a perfect life of obedience to God’s commands, had no sin in Himself, but took our sin on Himself, that we might have life through belief in His Name.

“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” – John 20:30-31

When we commit our hearts to Jesus, when we fall at the cross and acknowledge Him as our Lord and Master, then we will receive forgiveness of our sin and the Spirit can infuse us with the nature that Jesus Christ had.  We will still sin, surely, because we are a sinful people.  But there is forgiveness and restoration through the cross of Christ upon our confession and repentance. 

Then we can express compassion that is not self-centered or self-aggrandizing.  Rather, our compassion will be a characteristic of our loving Father, of our Savior Jesus Christ, and from the Holy Spirit Who will give it to us as we seek to do the Father’s will in our world.

Blessings to you today as you serve our God and Savior.

Father, I pray that I would exhibit Your compassion to those that I meet.  May my heart break for the things that break Your heart, Lord Jesus, and may I express my compassion through the power of the Holy Spirit in words, thoughts and deeds that glorify Your Name.

WE ARE THE BODY!

One thing is for sure – every person alive has a body. Our body may be tall or short; stocky or slim; male or female; or a host of other possibilities, but we have a body and that body is what other people see. Therefore, it becomes how people identify with us.

 

Another thing is absolutely true — our bodies are not indestructible. One grandson broke his arm when he jumped off a slide in an attempt to avoid a puddle at the bottom!

Jonathan David with cast

 

Another grandson broke his leg while at the hospital when he found out that he was going to be a big brother to a little sister.

Child's cast
Child’s cast for broken leg.

 

When I fell in Alaska, I severely broke my left ankle.

Ankle xray
X-ray

 

This resulted in surgery and over 9 weeks of non-weight bearing and significant use of a wheelchair, with later graduation to a walking boot, and then physical therapy. Subsequent to this injury and repair, I needed to have left knee surgery to strengthen and repair a torn meniscus. And then, I had to have right knee replacement because of, in part, the damage caused by twisting my leg when I turned my body to get into the wheelchair.

 

Praise the Lord that there is healing for our bodies. Both the grandsons have completely healed and they act as if the broken limbs never happened. The Lord has healed my body from its various surgeries and there is physical therapy ongoing.

 

The past two years have impressed upon me the interaction and interconnection of the various parts of our bodies. When one part of our body is injured, the rest of the body comes to its aid. For example, when you get a splinter in your finger, white blood cells congregate at that site to get the invader out!  Or, consider people who cannot hear but who have extraordinary eyesight; or those who have been rendered blind and they recount how their hearing has improved.

 

In the New Testament of Scripture, we often read about the Body of Christ. This phrase is used in three senses. First, the phrase refers to the physical body of Jesus which according to Philippians 3:21 is the model for the resurrection bodies of Christians. Second, the phrase refers to the bread of the Lord’s Supper, or communion, a sacrament of the Church. 1 Corinthians 10:16. Third, the phrase Body of Christ is used by Paul as a symbol of the church. 1 Corinthians 12:12-27.

 

In Romans 12:5, Paul describes the church as being one body in Christ, each member belonging to all the others. In other words, the church encompasses in a single community all those who are united to Christ by the Holy Spirit through faith.

 

It is the community of believers who are responding to Jesus’ call to “Follow me.” Christ commissioned His followers to carry on His work and that is the Church’s reason for existence. In short, the Body of Christ gives to the world the hands, feet and voice of our Lord. The Body of Christ is the church in action.

 

Just as our physical bodies have different parts with different functions, so the Body of Christ is made up of believers who have different spiritual gifts, abilities and interests.

  • Not everyone is a preacher – but we all must be able to tell others of our Lord Jesus by giving our own personal testimony.
  • Not everyone is a singer for the choir – but we all are to praise God and make a joyful noise!
  • Not everyone has the gift of hospitality – but we all must extend love and assistance to those in need when we are able to do so.

 

In other words, we as believers in Jesus Christ are not clones of each other. In His providence and sovereignty, God has equipped His church, the Body of Christ, with those people who can fulfil specific needs. Each of us need to do the task which is intended for them to fill.

 

We each have the responsibility to fulfil the role assigned to us in the Body of Christ because it belongs to you, not to anyone else. Sure, others could do it if you don’t, but you will miss out on the blessing of obedience to God if you fail to be obedient and you will be putting stress on other parts of the Body who are trying to take care of your job as well as their own.

 

My right leg helped get me down the stairs when I could not put weight on my left leg; however it was at the expense of my right knee which had to be replaced because of the exacerbated damage caused during those 9 weeks of twisting into the wheelchair. In other words, the Body accomplished what needed to be done, but it was more costly than it would have been if my left leg had been operational.

 

“If We Are the Body” is a song recorded by Christian rock band Casting Crowns. Written by Mark Hall and produced by Mark A. Miller and Steven Curtis Chapman, it was released as the lead single from the band’s 2003 self-titled debut album through Beach Street Records on July 26, 2003. Mark Hall, lead singer and a youth minister, said that “If We Are the Body” was originally written for use in teaching his youth group what the Christian church was for. Each person in the Body of Christ is given gifts to use in ministry; and when Christians refuse to use the gifts given to them, the Body suffers.

 

We don’t know those who are to be recipients of the salvation provided by Christ’s atoning work on the cross. What we do know is that the Body of Christ, the Church, is to witness to the world — that is to each one who the Lord brings into our path.

“If We Are the Body” closes with the haunting words:

Jesus paid much too high a price
For us to pick and choose who should come
And we are the body of Christ
Jesus is the way

 

I pray, as members of the Body of Christ, that we would accomplish our tasks and then assist other parts of the Body as well, rather than being those who sit back and let the Body go on without their input.

 

Don’t miss out on the blessing of service to our Lord. If you are a believer in Christ Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you are part of the Body of Christ and you have a role to play in the church for which you have been equipped, and that role is singularly yours.

 

Praise the Lord that He has enabled us to become part of the Body of Christ, the church, to His glory and to the honor and glory of God the Father.

BOO-BOOS AND PRIDE!

Boo‐boos.  That is one of the terms for that time in a child’s life when they hurt themselves. Children from time immemorial have scraped, cut, and bruised themselves by running without watching where they were headed, focusing on playing with some toy while they are walking around, jumping off a ledge onto a hard surface, or perhaps playing with a sibling and coming out on the short end of the stick!  Whatever happens, when there is an injury, the child comes running, crying, to the parent or caregiver, pointing to the newest boo‐boo.

Boo-boo with fancy Band-Aid!
Boo-boo with fancy Band-Aid!

All of us hope and pray that the injury is not serious enough to require emergency medical attention; and, for the vast majority of boo‐boos, we are correct.  The kiss from Mom or Dad, the hug from Grammy or Papa and a decorated Band‐Aid will usually take care of the hurt.

Then too we have the child who gets injured and for whom medical attention is required.  Broken arms and legs do not heal well on their own – they need the expert guidance of the physician to set the bone and secure it until the body is fully healed.

Little boy's cast after breaking his leg.
Little boy’s cast after breaking his leg.

While adulthood gives some perspective to hurts and difficulties of childhood, simple aging does not eliminate the existence of boo‐boos nor does it stop the creation of new ones.  Now, most of my boo‐boos do not result in physical injuries or marks for which a colored Band-Aid or designer cast is the remedy.  [Okay, I did break my ankle when I fell on vacation in Alaska and that resulted in surgery with scars on both sides of my foot … so some of my boo-boos are actually physical, but the majority are notl]

Oh no, most of my boo-boos are much more subtle.  They are much more longstanding, and they have significantly greater consequences if left to fester without repentance.  And, they usually cannot be healed by my actions; rather, they need the expert hand of the Great Physician to attend to the wound.

  • The temper flare‐up when I feel that I have been misused.
  • The gossip passed from my lips under the guise of enlisting prayer partners.
  • A sudden fit of blindness when I fail to lend a helping hand to someone in need and who is plainly in my field of vision.
  • Doing something good but then being upset when I think that I have been ignored.
  • And countless others … need I go on?

I expect that your boo‐boos are not the same as mine – we each are unique in our ability to err and not follow God’s will for our lives.  But, I suggest that, ultimately, for each of us, it comes down to pride.   Are we going to submit ourselves totally to the Lordship of Jesus Christ?  In all things?  At all times?

The goal of the Christian life is that we live so that we are transformed into the image of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  While that is the goal, Jesus knows we are human and that we cannot live a life without boo‐boos.

In Jesus Calling, Sarah Young provides thoughtful daily devotions that are written as if Jesus is talking to us directly.  For the devotion for May 9, she refers to Romans 8:28 and Micah 7:7 and then says:

Because you are human, you will continue to make mistakes.  Thinking that you should live an error‐free life is symptomatic of pride.  Your failures can be a source of blessing, humbling you and giving you empathy for other people in their weaknesses.  Best of all, failure highlights your dependence on Me. I am able to bring beauty out of the morass of your mistakes. Trust Me and watch to see what I will do. [Sarah Young, Jesus Calling, Enjoying Peace in His Presence, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2004.]

Yep, it all comes back to pride.   I want to do it my way – or I don’t want to do what He commands – or I think I can accomplish it in my own strength – or … well it comes back to the focus on I/ Me/ My rather than Him.

All we see are the minute details of our own lives.  We don’t see the effect our actions have on others.  We don’t know how our words affect others for good, or bad, and we cannot anticipate what the future will be for anyone.  We see our mistakes and lost opportunities, and sometimes we see good things that happened along the way.  It is as if we are seeing the fabric of our lives on the backside of the fabric, the side where the knots are.  (The picture below is of one of the quilts on display at the DAR Museum in Washington D.C.;  it is a floral applique quilt that was created in 1840-41.)

Floral Applique Quilt [circa 1840-41] on display at DAR museum in Washington, D.C.
Floral Applique Quilt [circa 1840-41] on display at DAR museum in Washington, D.C.
God, however, sees the front of the fabric and sees the pattern that He has created for each of us.  Read Psalm 139, especially verse 16, where the Psalmist is describing God’s intimate knowledge of him and saying:

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

Our days were written in God’s book even before we were born.  Clearly, our lives are the design that He created for us, and He will develop our lives according to His plan, including our boo-boos. In fact, sometimes what we may consider a boo-boo is transformed by God into the door to greater blessing than we could ever have imagined!

Praise the Lord that He is able to take my boo‐boos and use them for my learning, growth and ministry to others.  He promises to take both our good and bad choices and use them as part of the fabric of our life in Him.  (Picture below was taken at the Homestead Museum of the spinning wheel and quilt reflecting life on the Homestead in Cumberland County, Tennessee.)

Quilt and spinning wheel on display at Homestead Museum, Crossville, Tennessee.
Quilt and spinning wheel on display at Homestead Museum, Crossville, Tennessee.

Praise the Lord!  The sinless One cares for me and He helps me overcome and heal from the boo‐boos of my life.  There might be a scar or two, but that’s alright.  Jesus has scars too, and His were from the nails that were meant for me!

Praise the Lord for His unfathomable love and grace.

Father, thank you for sending the Lord Jesus Christ to die on the cross for my sin.  Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your obedience to the Father’s will and for your atoning sacrifice for me.  Thank you, Holy Spirit, for quickening my heart and for your presence with me to guide and direct as I live for my Lord.  Forgive the boo-boos that I have created and grant mercy as I continue to live my life so that I may bring glory to my God and my Savior