Love sees the big circle, but doesn’t neglect the smaller ones

by Craig on April 28, 2011

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The dark of night began yielding to “the blue time” this morning,

then colors on the edges slowly overtook the blue,

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then for the first time in about a week a white yellow ball peaked above the horizon.

 

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Now it’s fully out and blindingly brilliant.

And the sky is blue

and the birds are singing

and the earth is drying like a sheet in the breeze.

It’s been a week of storms in the Midwest and the South. A tornado touched down 5 miles away from me just a few days ago. It demolished houses and threw cars and closed the airport.

So irresistibly captivating …

those tornadoes …

and so deadly.

Being five miles from a tornado just meant big winds, flickering power, billowing clouds, tornado sirens, some hail, and sheets of sideways rain for me.

Five miles away was total destruction.

But in Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia – and most especially, in Alabama it was much worse than even that.

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It’s Spring, and in “tornado alley” we live with these cyclones.

The ones from yesterday are sobering.

There have always been senseless murders, wars, and famine, and epidemic, and tsunamis, volcanoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes. The world is seemingly smaller because of technology – and our backyards have ostensibly grown.

We know about disaster,
as it’s happening,
even across the globe.

In a way it’s good I think, because it makes me, makes us, aware that the circles of life extend far beyond my own horizon, our own vistas. But it carries a price too.

We extend love,

emotion,

assistance,

and prayer,

across thousands of miles.

But then…

maybe…

overlook the pain of a neighbor, or loved one, close enough to touch.

Love, (and by now you may know that sometimes when I use the word Love, I mean God) Love? He’s big enough to see it all, to cope with a universe of violence and obliteration, all pretty, but dangerous.

The real miracle, though, is that as he does that he doesn’t sacrifice the guidance, protection, and care of one human life, right here, right now.

We think we’re so big,
so special,
and we are special,
but not so big.

We’re creations of the limitless with limits.

I can become emotionally overloaded sometimes and parts of me shut down as circuit breakers begin to click.

And then I ignore the little shut downs – until all the lights are off.

I don’t do that with electricity,

so why do I do it with my heart?

To see the pain across the globe and feel it – that’s love.
To see it, and then ignore what’s in front of me – that’s not.

To shudder at the devastation of a tornado in Tuscaloosa – that’s love.
To allow people around me to be devastated by personal storms is not.

To adopt a child in a village through an organization, get a letter, buy some food and shelter – that’s love.
To neglect those in my own smaller circles, who are hungry, and homeless, and lost – that’s not.

Purest Love, Our Lord, sees it all…

and bleeds with the bleeding,
and cries with the crying,

and yearns with the yearning,
and dies with the dying.

He helps everywhere,

unlimited,

unbounded,

unfathomably.

Love is big enough to reach around the earth and still sit with me, with us, in a dark period.

Today I’m brokenhearted for the people of Tuscaloosa – and that’s a tiny bit of love.

But this day I’ll be sure to look closer to home.

I’ll be picking through debris in the lives of those in my closer circles.

I won’t forget the big picture, but I won’t neglect the smaller one.

I’ve been wondering how it can be that great darkness can settle in, just after great light.

Today I tripped over an answer right under my toes.

Oh, for better eyes to see…

In God’s love.

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Cora April 28, 2011 at 10:19 am

I’m amazed at how God works, bringing these bloggy things at just the right moments. This one hit me like a baseball bat on the side of my head (heart, backside, wherever I needed it!). You see, yesterday I was bombarded with all of this from all sides (including you, Craig). I’ve been acutely aware for some time now of my comfort zones — things I could do for people that didn’t cost me anything and I could call it love. No risks, no long term commitments, etc. But yesterday. . . I had to face it all. I promised I would help someone set up a website for them (don’t even know why I did THAT — I don’t know a thing about it.) He wanted a “links” page to some other ministries he is involved in — all of which are ministries to homeless, hungry, “the least of these” people. A phone call invited me to go and hand out cheeseburgers and maybe pray and speak with some of the women. My hesititation spoke volumes to this person, and before I could give an answer, he knew it was a NO! Three times yesterday, I said no to similar things . . .and I think I heard a rooster crow. So here I am, facing the fact that I’m a phoney. All blah-blah-blah. Hot air. I’ll do anything from my comfort zone. NOTHING if it’s out of it. Today I’m at a crossroads. Craig, if you remember to pray for me, I would appreciate that. What would it have cost me last night to hand out cheeseburgers to homeless people????? It’s not that I said no. It’s WHY????

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Craig April 28, 2011 at 10:25 am

First – of course I’ll pray later again – because I just finished praying for you now.

Second, I’ve read in our bloggy world how you can’t say yes to everything, because saying yes to too much means saying no to just as much.

When I wrote this – maybe it was for you Cora,
“We think we’re so big,
so special,
and we are special,
but not so big.

We’re creations of the limitless with limits.”

God bless you Cora – and I’ll pray again later.

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A. April 28, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Craig, very good post, and I like what you said in response to Cora, that saying yes to things almost has to mean saying no to other things so we have to decide which things are yeses and which are no’s, for there will inevitably be both. And others may judge us for our particular yeses and no’s so we have to make sure we personally can live with our decisions.

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Craig April 28, 2011 at 12:17 pm

A. Thank you. And see, I wouldn’t know that thing about yes’s and no’s if I didn’t blog in this community. Yay for that choice – regardless of bunnies. God bless you A.

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Kristin April 28, 2011 at 2:33 pm

I’m glad you are ok Craig.
Cora, I just wrote a post for next week about comfort zones. Will post it Tuesday. I stayed in my comfort zone for a long time because of fear and inadequacy. But then I stepped out in faith and have been blessed beyond measure! I am a very quiet person who is more the listener than the talker, but the Holy Spirit got me out into the evangelizing world and into the homeless community. Two places I never thought I would be. There are many times I have said No. I think we just need to pray and ask God where He would have us, and then step out in faith, knowing He will be there with us guideing us. One of my favorite quotes is…”He doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.” And the called are all of us…we just have to pray where that calling for us is.
Craig. your post was wonderful, thank you!

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Craig April 28, 2011 at 5:02 pm

First of all Kristin I am green with envy that you write posts a week in advance. I can barely keep up with Love AND the twin blog. Just today I kept my poem on the other blog for one more day – and it was so relaxing to just write one post. I was even able to write it better. So there – that’s my confession for the day. I’m jealous – and love is not jealous – and so forgive me. K?

Thank you for all you said in your comment – It reminds me of a Robert Shuler quote – “don’t be afraid to go out on a limb – that’s where all the good fruit is at.” I heart that you broke through your fear. And thank you for your gracious words. God bless you Kristin.

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Christina April 28, 2011 at 4:46 pm

So scary! Yet so are the storms of life–thanks for reminding us to reach out to others who are hurting. Great post!

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Craig April 28, 2011 at 5:05 pm

I guess it’s all about balance – God balances the care of the universe with the care of each one of us – so we (read I) need to strive for that balance too. Thank you so much Christina. thank you. God Bless you.

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Susan Evans April 28, 2011 at 4:53 pm

It’s true. We tend to “love” people far away, or feel sorry for them and pray for them, when people are hurting right here.

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Craig April 28, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Far away we get to keep our masks on – let people in and suddenly the masks don’t hide anything at all. I am just so struck how even the very best of us – THE VERY BEST – not me by a longshot – but the BEST and most noble – still are imperfect. It is humbling really. Thank you Susan – God bless you today. You and your classroom too.

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Miz Liz April 28, 2011 at 5:28 pm

This post left me breathless, Craig. Wham, just when I wasn’t expecting Love!
One of the things I learned during my time in Lent this year is that all Christians and especially me NEED a pastor–especailly a pastor who tells the truth and is close at hand.
Thank you for serving as my pastor, Craig, even if you didn’t volunteer.
I also struggle, Cora, with my comfort zone and my service is as a care giver right here at home. I’m so grateful that God is patient with me, my care receivers are forgiving of me, and Craig and his readers teach and comfort me. When I get my breath, I’ll study this post, Craig; I believe you’ve left me a gold-mine. Thank you.

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Craig April 28, 2011 at 6:19 pm

Liz thank you – I heart that you like it here. I heart that you read me. I’m nobody’s pastor – degree or not – but I thank you for the compliment. I’ll settle for friend.:) Just thank you Liz – God bless.

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Michelle April 29, 2011 at 7:15 am

Pastor (wiki) – “The Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament) uses the Hebrew word רעה (roʿeh). It is mentioned 173 times and describes the feeding of sheep, as in Genesis 29:7, or the spiritual feeding of human beings, as in Jeremiah 3:15.” I believe that you do that Craig, each and every day you write here and on your other site. And feeding isn’t just giving milk, it’s making us chew – which you do often – and get nourished spiritually on the Truth of the Love of God.

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Craig April 29, 2011 at 12:43 pm

Michelle – at this point I’ll stop arguing :) I’ll just politely say thank you – God shows me stuff – and I share it – and we’re all sheep – but thank you Michell – thank you. God bless.

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Amber April 28, 2011 at 8:50 pm

I, unfortunately, am guilty of ignoring what’s in front of me and what’s going on in the world. There is a fine line of becoming so aware that you are zapped of the energy and compassion to complete/fulfill your daily tasks and being oblivious to the point of ignorance. I struggle to know where I fall and what to do about it………..Hmmmmm, you have me thinking……..

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Craig April 29, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Balance – I’m with you when you say “I struggle to know where I fall and what to do about it” How much to let in – how much to say yes to, balance. I am all the way with you Amber. Thank you – God bless you and yours.

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Dawn April 28, 2011 at 10:28 pm

Dear Craig,

I read this post early this morning before there were any comments. I had a Miz Liz’s reaction, “When I get my breath, I’ll study this post, Craig; I believe you’ve left me a gold-mine.” My response to helping far away and closing our eyes close to home was quite different from yours, Craig. You answered Susan by saying it allows us to keep our masks on. I should probably take a more introspective approach to this, but my first response this morning was to shift the blame (sorry, folks) to the person in need. Many times I don’t help locally because I know the person and their needs are due to their own poor choices. AND we have all kinds of resources in this city for them to meet the necessities of life. I don’t see the same in poor countries where I have been. If there is nothing to eat, there is truly nothing to eat there. We have soup kitchens all over this town that an able-bodied person can walk to from anywhere, and the handicapped can ride the bus free.

I’m ranting, I know. I don’t want to be heartless, but enabling helplessness is not a help either. Those who lost their homes in the tornadoes must be in shock. I can’t even imagine their pain. They need immediate help. I saw the tornado on your blog before I saw the death toll from the tornadoes on my computer’s news this morning. Then I read Danelle’s blog about how she and her two sons and husband spent the night in a closet with their flashlights, praying and trusting.

Then there was the death of David Wilkerson today. The man in the book “The Cross and the Switchblade.” I remember him going in to the places where heroin addicts would “shoot up” in New York City and tell them about Jesus. Out of his dedication to these teens, the Teen Challenge Centers grew up across the nation. I remember him asking a young person who wanted to work with him to help the drug addicts, if he loved the drug addicts. The person replied, “I don’t know Mr Wilkerson, but I’m going to be with them through withdrawal, clean up their vomit, hold them as they shake just as I would do IF I loved them.” David Wilkerson was amazed at this young person and hired them on the spot.

To be honest, I do not want to do that kind of nitty gritty rubber-meets-the-road kind of ministry so much anymore. Like you, though, Craig, I pray to become more sensitive to the people’s needs in my immediate environment. Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ used to say if you are near a person for a couple of minutes and there is nothing particular going on that may be your cue to minister. That happened to me today and I didn’t engage the person. I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

Thinking. here,
Dawn

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Michelle April 29, 2011 at 7:22 am

“..that may be your cue to minister. That happened to me today and I didn’t engage the person”. I get this Dawn. Where I work as a manager of an church op shop with about 25 beautiful volunteers, we pray (or try to) that we would see the opportunities that God gives us to be ‘Him’ to people who come in. We don’t always see them, and we don’t always take them when we do see them. I do kick myself, especially when I willfully ignore the opportunity because I don’t feel like engaging but sense God telling me to. So then I have to go out the back and repent and ask God to help me to even when I don’t feel like it. He usually gives me a chance pretty soon after. 😀
Don’t feel guilt about not engaging the person today, ask God to give you another opportunity, whether with that person or another. And it takes courage and boldness to step out of our comfort zones, so I pray boldness for you to share what you have with another.

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Craig April 29, 2011 at 12:51 pm

So much to think about Dawn. I think my idea of local is even more narrow than yours – it starts with the smallest circles – then ripples – my mom always said, “charity begins in the home” – that’s the point – then the circles around it – then across the world. I do get what you mean though that even the worst off here have it better than many in Somalia or Kenya or wherever – you have given me much to think about too. God Bless you Dawn.

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mary April 29, 2011 at 10:09 pm

“Oh for better eyes to see” – Soooo so my prayer- it is amazing how I can let Jesus flow so freely one moment with His love and 10 minutes later be snapping at my hubby or not see my neighbor hurting.

Take this heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh Lord

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Craig April 30, 2011 at 6:14 am

Amen Mary – heart of stone – for heart of flesh. Consistency that’s all I want too – just to be ALWAYS like Our Lord. But then if that were possible in this life he wouldn’t have had to be Savior – just God. And even after he turns our heart to flesh – we still need him. No? Thank you Mary – heart the name Mary by the way – thank you – and God bless you.

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Debbie April 30, 2011 at 10:40 pm

This is such a needed post and such a beautiful community, Craig. Tears. I really felt what everyone was saying. And Miz Liz being a caregiver and thankful that God is patient with her and her care receivers are forgiving . . .boy, that’s me. I often feel less than loving because I have someone who needs so much from me. I don’t get to extend my love too far in a one on one personal way. So, this blessed me to know it’s okay too, if my circle is small and that is mostly what I see and take care of. Always wishing I could do more . . .
God bless you!

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Craig May 1, 2011 at 5:49 am

I heart my community Deb, you were a charter member. No? Remember when I didn’t have a blog yet? I think I’m so fortunate to have amazing readers – so much wisdom – so much heart. I was a caregiver a short time for my mom – and it takes a lot – so I know a little – only a little of what you and Liz know. And like my mom said, charity begins at home. Blessings Deb!!

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