How is Watching going for you? Are you in a season of relative peace or does it feel like troubles are knocking at your door and crowding out your view of Jesus?
Whichever it is, (and maybe it’s both!) I’ve been doing a bit of thinking lately about the most important reminders for our Watching journey. The theme of Called to Watch this year is Watching for the Long Haul, and so far we’ve reflected on:
But if there were two things I could always have at the forefront of my mind as I Watch, two things which would make a real difference to the way I Watch and equip me for the long haul, it would be these:
1: Remember we are not Jesus
Joking aside, while most of us probably don’t think we were born to save the world, it’s easy to begin to believe that we were born to save our friend. Or our father. Or our husband. Our sister. Or our child. It’s so easy to begin to think that it’s up to us to make them happy. Or comfortable. Or safe. Or simply better. It’s easy to spend hours searching online for cures to their troubles. It’s easy to offer yourself as the solution every time they have a crisis.
After all, isn’t that what a concerned friend does? Isn’t that what a Christian does?
Yes, and no. A Christian loves, certainly. A Christian puts others first, and loves sacrificially at times. But because we know there is a Saviour, we also recognise that it’s not up to us to save our loved one. It’s not up to us to fix their lives. And so we can be okay with not being the first one to offer comfort. We can be okay with asking others to help. With being vulnerable and honest about the fact that we can’t help, and actually, the situation is affecting us too!
If we trust Jesus as Saviour, not just of our future, but of our current situation, and our friend’s current situations, we can have the patience to hope and wait. We can have the perspective to see when it’s pride and stubbornness that makes us say ‘yes’ when we should say ‘no’ and when our guilt about not doing enough is actually because we’ve made care-giving more of our identity than it ought to be.
If we are truly acknowledging Jesus as Saviour of all things and all times and all people, we will find ourselves better placed to love others better, and to reflect him – not ourselves – in all that we do. And isn’t that the point? Isn’t that why we care? Because God does?
2: Remember we need to know Jesus
Remember we need to know Jesus. When life gets busy, when other people’s sufferings pile up, this can be the first thing which goes out the door. Taking the time to know Jesus somehow becomes less important than making a meal for someone, or driving someone to a doctor’s appointment, or catching up for coffee. Don’t mistake me, these are all valuable things, but only if they are symptoms of something else – a love for Jesus.
For we can’t be like him if we don’t know him. We won’t be able to truly love if we don’t know and understand God’s love for us. If we’re not drawing our strength from God and serving his people with and for and to him, we are living a lie.
Let me put it bluntly: If you are loving people from your own strength, you are doing them a great disservice. You are robbing them of the opportunity to see Christ.
So please, spend time with Jesus. Spend time alone with him, chat with him throughout the day. Consciously make him your first thought when you wake up and your last thought when you go to sleep. Pray before and during and after you cook a meal or send an email or pick up the phone.
Time with Jesus is never wasted, because the fruits of your relationship will pour over into other people and will be a blessing. Please — and I’m saying this to myself too, because there have been so, so many times that I’ve drawn on my own strength – please let us know Jesus well.
Let us watch him intently and first, and love others second and as a result.
This post began life as a Pastoral Care talk at a Women’s Weekend. If you’re interested in having me come speak at your event, whether that’s specifically about chronic illness and care giving, or other topics such as grief, loss, suffering, hope and the Christian life, please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
//Which of these touched you the most? How will you remember them today?
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