The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair – Isaiah 63:1-3a

In an attempt to maintain good health I occasionally go jogging. It can get very tiring, especially when I focus on how far I need to go to get back home, and so I try to occupy my mind with prayer and meditation as I run. One day I noticed a crumpled brown bag on the road ahead of me. As I got closer I noticed it was from a fast food restaurant and it appeared that someone had finished their meal and then just tossed out the bag. My initial though was that I should pick up the bag with the cup and napkins that were spilling out of it to take home and dispose of properly. Instead, I just ran on by, reasoning that it would be inconvenient and awkward to carry something while running, and I really didn’t want it to affect my pace. Within a few steps God used that to speak into my heart and teach me an object lesson. How many times in life have I seen someone needing help, and passed on by because I didn’t want to get involved or be inconvenienced? All around us are people living with hurt and pain, many perhaps even feeling like they have been carelessly tossed aside and abandoned.

We read wonderful stories in the Bible about Jesus taking time to tend to the needs of people in all kinds of circumstances.  Jesus cared about the people around him and there are several examples of Jesus allowing and even embracing interruptions to care for their needs rather than focusing on completing a journey or reaching a destination. Something else I noticed on that crumpled bag was the recycle symbol. It could be made into something new and used for another purpose. That lesson along the road has inspired me to try to be more observant of people and to strive to be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit prompting me to be Jesus to the people around me. God has given me a new life, and I want others to know that regardless of their background and history God will do the same for them. Jesus died so that everyone who believes can have life, and I encourage you to join me in helping others to know how much they are valued and that regardless of how broken or worthless they may feel, God can make them new and give their lives purpose and meaning.  Let’s not get so wrapped up in our own lives that we overlook, or even intentionally bypass those whom God has called us to love.

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ’I tell you the truth, whatever you did for the least of one of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:35-40. NIV)