I recently met a lady living in an informal settlement just outside Cape Town. Her name was Margaret and I guess she was in her early thirties. She came to me after I spoke to a group of people about justice and the fact that God’s throne was built on righteousness and justice. “I want to share my story with you”, were her opening words. “At the moment I am caring for 20 children at my house. They just keep arriving at any time and I feel compelled to care for them.” “Why do you feel compelled to care?” I asked Margaret. “When I was 8 days old my mother had a big fight with my father. She took me out into a field and left me there on my own. An old man walked past me lying in the field and he picked me up and took me home. People went out of their way to help me and give me a chance in life. Should I not also do the same for others?” I was quiet and didn’t know what to say, or maybe I just didn’t want to disturb the atmosphere she left in the air. Lord, I wish all of us could have an experience like that! I thought. Is that what is necessary for us to grasp the heart of our Father? Do we really have to go through something like Margaret to feel compelled to care for others around us? I remembered the verse in John 14:18, “I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.” What a beautiful verse. Like Margaret, and Israel, I too was lying in a field once upon a time; weak and vulnerable. Surely if you and I have understood and experienced this salvation love, it should not be hard for us to feel compelled to cross the road like the Good Samaritan?
It is hard for me to keep this close to my heart all the time if I do not go our out of my way to meet the Margarets of this world regularly. I guess it is like people going to Church on a Sunday hoping someone would open God’s word for them and give them enough for the rest of the week. Fundamentally, both scenarios are flawed and it is only a matter of time before we will be found wanting. The compassion that Christ expects from us can only come from a deep personal love relationship with Him. It is His heart that is revealed as He lives in us. Hands at Work loves receiving visitors– believers and non-believers. It always fascinates me how both groups can experience the same crisis as they walk the dusty streets of Africa. They ask different questions but face the same challenge: where do I fit into this with my belief system? The bigger surprise is that without our interfering, both parties most often come to the same conclusion: I cannot do it on my own, and I cannot go home and just ignore it.
I believe this is a wonderful place to be because if we really seek we will find! Some of us will find the Prince of Peace in this process; others who already know Him will discover the very heart of His good news message! Ultimately we were created to be a blessing to God and to others. It leaves a hole in our deepest core and nothing can fill that hole but a life of compassion. The opposite of that would be to try and fill that hole with other things like self-centredness, or as some would call, “shopping therapy”, or the like.
“Do not lay up for yourself treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart also be. ” Matt. 6:19-21.
Each one of us has the potential to be a Margaret to others around us!