In September, 2012, while praying on my couch at home, I heard I ‘voice’ (not audible, ‘heard’ in the back of my head) which I have come to recognize as the Lord’s voice say, “Think less about your own needs. Think more about others’ needs. You take care of their needs and I’ll take care of yours.”
Soft, confident, authoritative. Not dictatorial. Loving. Friendly. Knowing.
As usual, it said a lot in a little. Here are all the things it meant to me (in addition to the direct and obvious message):
- It reinforced the idea that as a Christian, I must die to myself. (John 12:24, Luke 9:23)
- It reinforced the idea that the time I spent worrying can and should be replaced with action to meet the needs of others, and that it will render the worry useless. (Luke 12:22, Matt 10:19)
- It helped me to trust more in the Lord’s promise to respond to my kindness to others with His own kindness to ensure I also get what I need.
- It helped me envision what the Lord would like of this world: more loving relationships where people define normal as each of us solving the needs of others, creating a circle of helpfulness and love known as the Body of Christ. It’s wonderful image.
I have noticed that the Lord corrects me or encourages me to become more than what I am. A reader might think that if I ‘hear’ these things, it means I already AM these things. Not so. One could say that I am striving to become these things, but not even that is fully true. God is way out in front of where I need to be, and is calling me to come in His direction. You would think that I would have leapt at the chance to do whatever God asks, and right away, just to please Him. Sometimes I wonder why I don’t always. I know why, really. There is the significant weight of the ‘normal life’ also calling me. It’s ‘normal’ after all. So it must be good.
Some thoughts that hold me back: I have a job to keep and my own chores to do. What am I supposed to give up? I need a little relaxation sometimes. I’ve earned it. I could tire myself out adding more to my schedule. If I don’t worry about my own needs, some problem might creep up on me and surprise me, and people would wonder why I didn’t plan ahead. What if God doesn’t take care of me as I would like? He might make me settle for less money, fewer ‘toys’, an older car.
I hope that by admitting these hesitations that I’ll be able to get them off my chest and get past them so that I can be more of what God wants me to be.
Post-Script on Jan. 19, 2015 from Bill Griffin
Reading this recollection from September 2012, I can happily report that the words “Think less about your own needs. Think more about others’ needs. You take care of their needs and I’ll take care of yours.” have easily come back into my mind, word for word, dozens of times in the past two years. It's surprising that the memory is so clear, considering that I rarely remember things verbatim. On the other hand, I suppose I am not surprised, because of the significance I placed on the moment I 'heard' those words. When you believe that you heard something from the Holy Spirit, one of the Persons of God, you tend to remember! I can also happily report that the promise made within those sentences has gradually seeped into my being deep enough that I find I am comforted and much less hesitant to make the spontaneous choice to tell myself 'Do it' when I encounter a person needing assistance, even if I have other obligations or plans for that moment. There's a belief that if I do take care of others, that God will smooth out any difficulties I may cause to myself. There is also a belief that God wants people helping people on Earth as a way of demonstrating what the Kingdom of God looks like, and attracting people to it.
For example, in January, here are some things I responded to. I felt acting would not 'cost' me, because some form of spiritual compensation would take place even if I did not know what it would be.
- When I saw a minor accident on the Southfield freeway, while on my way to work, I stopped to give my name as a witness. More was needed than that. I was able to stop a nasty argument that started between the young lady who caused it, and the middle-aged lady who felt the young lady was more concerned about her car than the other driver's injury. Afterwards, both thanked me warmly for stopping and helping.
- When a blind semi-homeless beggar that I know asked me at the last minute to help him get ready to take a bus to leave the great white north of Michigan for a warmer state, I thought he meant he needed a few errands run. As I discovered, he had a full day's worth of planning, errands, shopping, packing and driving. A quick prayer and I felt I should provide what he needed, even though my days' plans had to be abandoned.
- When I saw that two co-workers at Ford who moved here from India did not feel comfortable driving in the slippery snow, I took my lunch hour to give them training and practice out on a snowy parking lot. I did not feel 'put out' at all; rather, I felt happy that I had an opportunity to fulfill the instruction I believed I received from the Holy Spirit.
- When a co-worker said that he was still working to repair the damage to his basement after the August 2014 floods in SE Michigan, and mentioned he needed to find a plasterer, I told him I'd just do it for him. That might not sound all that unusual, but for me it was. I had for years gone by the unnecessary premise that friendships with co-workers shouldn't spill into my 'personal' time. But we both enjoyed ourselves, and I'm likely to respond similarly in the future with other friends.
- When I was leaving work a week ago to pick up my car pooler, I saw someone in the parking lot running and waving at someone in the distance. I asked him what he needed. He said his car went dead and he was trying to flag down his friend with the jumper cables to come back and help him. His friend's car just then went out of sight. I told him to jog to my car and we'd go chase him, and after going 60 mph on a vacant street for a quarter mile, we caught up. I wasn't late to pick up my car pooler.
My point is not to illustrate I'm a good guy. My point is that the Holy Spirit's promise to take care of me made me much more attuned to the needs of others, and I felt that I'd lose nothing if I acted on that instruction. This is the kind of world I like to live in. What a feeling of freedom from many daily concerns.