Longing For a Heart of Love Like Jesus

“All those people goin’ somewhere
Why have I never cared?”

Brandon Heath sings and asks himself this as he breathes in the confusion and chaos of people in this world and as he longs to have the eyes and heart of Jesus.

It’s so easy to get caught up in our own lives and our own problems, isn’t it? To become blind or passive about the pain of others? Or perhaps numb, because we can’t bear to think of all the pain in this world?

I long to really see each and every person I meet, whether in person or online. I want to listen to the brokenness behind their pasted-on smiles and I’ve-got-it-altogether words. I want to care what is happening to them behind the scenes. I want to remember that each one carries a cross, sometimes hidden from the rest of the world, and to place their burdens in the hands of God who knows and cares.

There may be times when we hesitate to pray for some people.  Perhaps it’s someone who hasn’t treated us very well in the past?  Someone who has spread rumors or believed in the slander of our person?  Someone who has abused us in some way?

Personally, I find it hard to pray for someone who has hurt me. And even harder to pray for someone who has hurt my loved ones or defenseless children and adults. I confess that sometimes I don’t even want God to care about their souls. I hang my head in sadness and plead that I will become more like Jesus.

It’s not always easy, is it? Especially when the pain runs so deep. I’ve asked God – “How can I ask You to bless this person, Lord?” I feel in my heart that God hurts for me and understands why it’s so hard, and He is so patient with me as He helps me through this long and continuous healing process. Through His grace, I will eventually heal deeper and be able to see every person like Jesus sees them.

Oh, to have the eyes of Jesus! When He was suffering excruciating pain on the cross to save us from death and agony, He still looked at the people around Him with compassion. People who hated Him with a passion. Who drove in the nails and mocked Him. Who stripped Him of His dignity. And yet His first words were, “Father, forgive them…”

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them,
for they don’t know what they are doing.”
Luke 23:34a

He could have said, “Father, consume them. They don’t deserve Your love or forgiveness.” But no, He didn’t. His love for sinful mankind is far beyond what we can ever fathom.

We have just as much a part in crucifying Jesus as the ones who physically drove in those nails, and in disgracing Him to the lowest of the lowest.  And yet He still looks directly into our eyes and hearts with love and compassion. While His blood was pouring out to cleanse us. So there will always be hope for us. In spite of who we are or what we have done or not done, He prays for us and longs to redeem us.

Oh, to have a heart of love like Jesus!  A deep, true love for humanity!

“Give Me Your Eyes”
by Brandon Heath

“Give me Your eyes for just one second
Give me Your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me Your love for humanity
Give me Your arms for the broken-hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me Your heart for the ones forgotten
Give me Your eyes so I can see…”

Small Seeds of Love Are Never Wasted

“Love each other deeply and fully.
Remember the ways that I have loved you,
and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways.”
John 13:34 VOICE

I was sitting at my desk in my first grade class during recess. He ambled in from the fourth grade classroom, his smile warming my heart, making me feel special.

“Hi, Miss Van Veldhuizen. How are you today?” Conrad was different from many of us, not only because he had Down’s Syndrome, but because I could always trust that his greeting was never out of habit. I always knew he truly cared about my wellbeing and happiness.

It’s been over 30 years ago, but my heart still warms at the memory of him on the last day of school. Most students would wave good-bye as they boarded the bus, but Conrad took special care of greeting each of us teachers by name and wishing us a nice summer.

Conrad was limited in mental capacity, but he had an even greater gift. The gift of uninhibited love and kindness without prejudice. A way of making each person he met feel noticed, special, and cared about.

A smile. A sincere greeting. A caring heart. We don’t have to do big things that get noticed. We can do little things with an overflowing love that spills out of hearts filled from the bottomless well of the love of Jesus. Those little seeds we plant will not be wasted, because God can nurture them in some person’s heart. Like Conrad did in mine.

The memory of Conrad’s caring heart makes me want to love like him. But above all, when I remember the unfathomable, no-greater-love of Jesus, I want to love more like Him. May God teach us to love deeply and fully, remembering how much He loves us!

Every seed of kindness we plant,
However small, noticed or unnoticed,
Can bloom hope in the heart of a hurting soul,
A soul aching to be loved and cared about.
With the nurturing of God’s love and grace
Every tiny seed planted
Will grow and blossom,
Spreading fragrances of love to more souls,
Making a difference in this broken world.

“Teach Me to Love”
by Steven Green

You Make a Difference, More Than You Know

“Watch what God does, and then you do it,
like children who learn proper behavior from their parents.
Mostly what God does is love you.
Keep company with Him and learn a life of love.
Observe how Christ loved us.
His love was not cautious but extravagant.
He didn’t love in order to get something from us
but to give everything of Himself to us.
Love like that.

Ephesians 5:1-2 The Message

The “butterfly effect” suggests that the whir of air released by a butterfly’s wings can magnify over time to release a power that can affect weather patterns thousands of miles away.  An unnoticed, seemingly insignificant action can intensify to a storm of consequence. Yes, it may take a long time, but it still ripples into the big story God has planned.

Every act of kindness we make causes a reaction which causes even further reactions. Sometimes these acts will be noticed and appreciated, and other times they aren’t. But God still uses them, regardless of the lack of acclaim.

Sometimes it feels like we don’t make a difference in the world, but we do. One act of kindness at a time. Years ago in a Bible Study using The Purpose Driven Life, I met a single mom who day after day washed bedding in the dark basement of a hospital. She was certain she did not have a purpose that glorifies God.  She wondered – What difference do I make in this world?

She woke me up to how much I don’t appreciate the work behind blessings I take for granted.  Those same clean, crisp, white sheets I have laid on in a hospital bed were washed by a woman who thought she wasn’t making a difference in the lives of anyone.  In reality, her quiet, unnoticed flap of wings has made a greater difference than she will ever realize.

When Heaven Is for Real first came out, a friend bought two copies to share with others. I received one copy and shared it with some neighbors whose lives were touched by it.  One neighbor bought a copy and also passed it around, and that person was so impacted that she bought her own copy to share with others. God works wonders from a simple act of kindness and caring.  A flap of the wings and the power releases.

It has been years since I watched the movie Pay It Forward, but the impact of it still resounds in my heart. Trevor came up with an idea for a seventh-grade assignment.  He would pass on an act of kindness to three people, and each of them in turn would pass on a good deed to three more.  His seemingly insignificant act stirred up a whirlwind of kindness in his school, his community, and even spread to other communities. The ending shocked me, but it portrays reality. Not all people accept or pass on kindness. Still, that doesn’t stop the difference our kindness continues to make on others.

Even a smile, a kind word, a door held open, or some other small gesture can sprinkle hope into someone’s heart, whether it’s a family member, friend, or a stranger. And whether or not they’re noticed or appreciated, acts of kindness not only affect those around us today, but by God’s grace they ripple on and shape the lives of others even years from now.

Now consider… If one pair of wings can gradually intensify into a storm, imagine what we can do together.

"What I do you cannot do; but what you do, I cannot do.
 The needs are great, and none of us,
 including me, ever do great things.
 But we can all do small things, with great love,
 and together we can do something wonderful."
 ~ Mother Teresa

“Try a Little Kindness”
by Glen Campbell

“May God give us grace
to show the same kindness to others
as He shows to us!”