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Outside the Gate

If we only knew the load each person bears, we’d likely become more loving, giving, caring.

I wonder if God is bringing more and more needy people my way or if I am growing more sensitive. Some are strangers, some not. What do I do with all this?

They seem outside the gate. Not just any gate, but my gate.

Somehow, I need to offer help—a smile, a note, an email, a prayer, a visit, money, time, flowers from my yard. There’s very little risk there. What seems risky is offering a room to lay one’s head, a meal. Really listening and getting to know their circumstances, who they are, how they live. This is risk. This is compassion.

Christians, isn’t this our calling? It takes our time, energy, risk, love. It’s the way we make life a little better for someone else. It’s the way we make life better for ourselves.

It may be inconvenient, but we are here to give like the prophets of old gave, like Jesus, like disciples.

When the river flooded, someone invited us to stay with them. She offered room and board. When I had cancer, people brought whatever they thought I’d need. A sister-in-law inconvenienced herself to help nurse me back to health. I’ve witnessed a friend loaning a car when a relative wrecked his. Just the right person would check on me.

But what about the stranger in need? When the caution flags go up because we don’t know them. What about then? They can’t repay us…ever. Aren’t they the image of God, too? They stand on the other side of the gate. Maybe they look broken, maybe not. We have no idea what they are carrying in their hearts, pockets, under coats. We don’t know if it’s a scam or not. All I know is my heart is sometimes touched. The Holy Spirit at work.

The light is rising in the east.

Queen Esther, a Persian queen, had to come to grips with how risky it would be for her to save her Jewish people from genocide. She concluded her uncle was right: She was born for a time such as this. If she perishes, she perishes. I think we too are born to intersect lives with the needy ones. They need our encouragement, hand, heart, help, invitation. We were born for such a time as this.

It’s how we heal each other. If we give to those around us, cry with those who need us, pray for them, healing happens. God shows us what to do in each individual case.

I encourage you to do what you can for those outside the gate in your little corner of the world. Then you can feel alive, not depressed, not tired, not like the walking dead. If you are a shut-in, pray for others. That IS doing something.

Let us use the life we have been given. Jesus gave others His love. We can do the same. It is life-giving, something for others to hang on to, something for us to hang on to.

If you do not feel loving or giving, ask God to put such a thing in your heart.


Pat Durmon

P.S. – Grateful for any comments made below under the photo of the gate.

Photo by Pat Durmon of gate on Baxter County 72, near Lone Rock, Arkansas, May, 2017.

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