Landis and I were playing outside one afternoon not long ago when an elderly woman came wandering down the middle of the street, somewhat tattered, extremely tired and thirsty, and lost. In her broken English she explained how she had wandered too far away from home for hours and couldn’t find her way back.
We tried to figure out where she lived, helped her to my home, where she sat on the porch because she didn’t want to come in. Landis got her a glass of ice water and listened as she told stories that we could only somewhat understand.
I called my neighbor, who speaks Spanish, and she came as fast as she could to help translate, and eventually she took her in her own car and helped her find her way home, all the way across the highway. The little lady pronounced a sweet blessing on us just before she left and proclaimed that she knew God had sent us to help her.
And we went inside and thought about her for the rest of the evening. And prayed for her.
I’m not gonna lie, though, that this little feeling of guilt crept in as I played the scene over and over again in my head. Was I supposed to speak some sort of a Gospel Word to her? Would that have been the best way to serve her? Did I not fulfill my Christian duty because I didn’t tell her about Jesus, even though there was a language barrier?
Does loving your neighbor always have to come with a word?
But here’s the truth about loving your neighbor–
God is at work in so many unseen ways, and this kingdom building is not 100% up to us. Gosh, it’s just not up to us at all. He has absolutely called us to serve and love others, and it’s a wonder that He lets us share in His work. But this participation is ours whether or not we know the outcome or get a perfect opportunity to share the words of the Gospel.
Gospel living is both speaking and doing, and it’s not necessarily both at the same time.
I pray for wisdom and boldness to know when words are needed, and I pray for grace when it’s a loving deed instead.
When we reach out and meet a need, He uses that in unseen ways to grow His kingdom, even if it’s without a word.
There’s just no room for guilt here. I absolutely want to grow in using my words to speak truth to people, but I also want to grow in trusting the Lord that He uses the body of Christ as a whole, and small acts of love and kindness are multiplied as all of us do what we are called to do in the moment.
Some of us speak, some of us serve, some of us write, and so on and so forth. And He uses it all to paint His picture, His story, and to grow His kingdom.
I hope you are feeling the freedom to serve with the gifts He’s given you–to love your neighbors and take care of people, and to trust that there’s a bigger story going on and it’s not fully dependent on you to accomplish it.
*linking up with Lori Harris for her series #onethingrightnow