I’m excited to publish this blog by one of our Reclaim Leaders: Derek Carson
On Sunday the church service I attended finished. As I was leaving the building, thinking through what I was going to eat for lunch, I heard a loud “Derek!” come from behind me. I instantly recognized the voice as someone who I went on a mission’s trip with a few years ago, but I hadn’t talked with them since the pandemic started in March. My initial reaction was leaning towards “I just want to get outside, take this mask off, get some lunch, and go on to the next thing on my agenda for the day. This conversation won’t be worth my time and effort, and I’m hungry.”
Internally I was also quickly reflecting on prior conversations with this person–how talking with them was often awkward and usually took a lot of effort to keep the conversation going. On top of that, I don’t have much in common with them.
As I was about to continue walking out the door to my car I felt a prompting in my heart from the Holy Spirit–a simple question of “Why do you want to dismiss this person, Derek? Are you worth any more than they are to Me?” These two simple, yet powerful questions cut right to my heart and motives.
Jesus cares deeply about our hearts. He knows the vicious, ongoing battle going on for them every minute of every day. He knows how the world constantly whispers to us lies about putting ourselves first, engaging in things for personal gain, and that this life is should be about me and my priorities. And in this question I knew He was fighting for my heart.
As I reflect back, I see how contradictory these lies are to what Jesus speaks into us! As men, we are called to engage, sacrifice, and view others as Jesus sees them…and to listen to the Holy Spirit when we feel his loving and direct promptings.
In my moment of self focus, I forgot to consider that this person is on the autism spectrum and their full story is heartbreaking. Briefly, their mom was a drug addict and in rehab most of their childhood; their dad wasn’t in the picture at all growing up.
The silver lining is that they were raised by a christian aunt who treated them as their own child! This person has so much baggage but because of their loving aunt is a lover and follower of Jesus.
All of these thoughts went through my head in that split second decision when I heard them call my name. I could either continue on with my day or engage in conversation with this person.
By God’s grace I decided to turn around and engage in the conversation. It lasted maybe 5 minutes, but in that time I heard that they were able to work their job at McDonalds and was looking for a second job and how happy they were to catch up with their siblings this past weekend.
I could see the joy in their eyes as they were sharing some of their heart and story with me and I felt the holy spirit softening my heart for them–reminding me of how much God loves this person.
I didn’t do it perfectly, but in those 5 minutes I tried to reflect some of Jesus’ character to this person–care, engagement and listening to a heart. I also was reminded about the example Jesus set around “The least of these” in Matthew 25 v. 31-46:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
I am so thankful that Jesus cares enough about me to confront me in areas where I still give into my “fleshly” desires. He is constantly refining and going straight for our hearts like a great army general, manager, or leader does.
My challenge to my fellow men on the front lines, especially during this brutal time in our country, is this: What will you do when the next small, 5 minute conversation presents itself to you?