She seemed to walk fine to me, playing with her little puppy outside. In fact, when we got there she was walking around her yard on her cell phone. Why does she need our help, I wondered.
I unloaded my four little children into the cold evening air expecting to finish in two hours only to reach the gate and know it would take much more than a cold evening, this would take another day.
She had replied to an ad we had placed in the local paper offering free leaf raking help to local people 55+ who either needed help or needed us to do the job for them. We were there to rake her yard. A simple task. After all, her yard needed major help, it had not been tended to for several years.
When you walked through the gate, you could see her life which once was. Play toys, flower gardens, sitting areas, and even a pool. At first glance someone would think...
"This person doesn't need help, she just needs to clean up her yard."
That is what I love about our Jesus. It's not always the person who needs help he's helping, it's usually me.
We worked hard that night, doing as much as we could. The kids we're having a blast, there were so many leaves to have fun in, making piles, running and jumping. Discovering treasures that had been buried under the mess of leaves for what looked like, years.
We all do it. We judge. We make excuses for why someone isn't worthy of our Graces. Why we don't have time to help. Why our help won't make a difference because we're just one person.
So, we never start.
As I worked that night, I couldn't stop thinking about Grace and how absolutely desperate I am for it's gift and how so many of us look like we don't need it.
I stopped and chatted with Ms. Mary for a bit. She told me of her grand kids who once swam in the big pool now overtaken with weeds and how long she saved for that patio furniture nobody sits in anymore. She shared with me about all the pins in her back, the countless surgeries she had endured and how she was preparing for yet another one. She said thank you countless times. When we left, her eyes filled with tears and she said,
"Nobody ever helps."
She had experienced Grace. I don't know how it happened, I mean, all we did was rake some leaves. My goodness, the kids even argued a few times over the rakes.
How does grace show up looking like some crazy kids and a tired mom?
When we love people, no matter how big or small He does all the rest. He moves and stirs their hearts, He uses our crazy, messed up lives to love and help people.
It's how they know, He cares.
They know He cares because you came. Because you sat and chatted, because you touched them. Because you hugged them, cleaned their house, talked them away from their addiction one more time, took them into your home one more time, or perhaps forgave them once again.
I realized that night, for the first time, some people, just need to see Jesus.
Some people don't need to be taught about Jesus; they don't even need to hear the Sunday sermon. They've heard it all before; they know about Jesus, they've heard the stories. Some may even sit in a pew all their days and never really see Jesus.
I'd like to tell you it's always easy. I'd like to tell you loving on people always brings you contentment, always fills your voids. I'd like to tell you everyone we deliver meals to on Thursdays are always nice, and I'm totally fulfilled doing Eleos. I'd like to tell you I'm totally content where I am in serving others and I'd like to tell you I don't pray each time I read Katie's updates that He would send me there to help. I'd like to tell you, I don't question God and beg Him to let me do something more. I'd like to tell you I've never had to stop and pray before we leave on Thursdays asking God to forgive me for yelling at the kids or being impatient when we're trying to get out of the house.
But I can't
I can't because I am desperate. So, desperate for His Grace. I can't because I'm broken. I'm broken and only complete in Him.
Like so many, I didn't deserve grace. I was a liar and a thief. I was an unwed mother at 17. I was selfish, mean, and full of hate. I was broken.
I wonder why we look at that and say, Yes that person needs Jesus, they need our help. But we look at the people who are lazy, maybe spend their money in the wrong places and can't pay their bills, perhaps they don't make wise choices, maybe they gossip, or have been mean to us and we decide they deserve what they have, "what they've created for themselves."
I remember a question was once asked of me.
"What does the face of someone who has experienced grace look like?"
I think Katie Davis puts it best. She says, "People come up to her all the time saying:
"Wow, you are so lucky you have found what God wants you to do with your life." Katie says she always thinks, " Well, I didn't just find it... I read it in the Bible." She continues, "As someone who calls themselves Christ followers, it is made very apparent that as Christ followers we are to love others as we love ourselves. "Well", she continues, "myself doesn't want to be starving and so I don't want other people in the world to be starving."
Maybe it's all a little more simple than we thought. I wonder why we're worried to start doing something? Why don't we realize that if He demands it of us, He probably has a plan to see us through.