This is a guest post by Grahame Smith.
Grahame was most influenced in life by Christians who lived out their faith by rolling up their sleeves and taking risks by helping others. He is a Chaplain and Crisis Counselor and with his wife Rhonda has raised 3 children and is helping to raise 4 grandchildren.
Grahame has two sites where he interacts with people from many countries. They can be found at Soul Care Counselling and SoulCare
He has a passion in asking people to consider what the 21st Century Church should like through social media.
Note from Jeremy Myers: I am publishing several guest posts this summer as I take some time off to rest. I am also preparing for something HUGE this fall. Stay tuned! If you would like to write a Guest Post for RedeemingGod, begin by reading the Guest Blogger Guidelines.
Months ago, a man in his early 30s passed me in the hallway. I had got to know him at one of the workplaces I visit. As one often does in such circumstances I asked him how he was going. This is a question which can easy roll off our tongues perhaps with little thought of what may come next.
He actually stopped me and said “life is hard and I have made a mess of things.”
Now I have come to realize many years ago, God does provide divine opportunities for us to extend His grace to others. What do I do now I asked myself?
I could see in his eyes a lot of pain, and I had a meeting to go to. If I put him off, the chance to listen and perhaps to help is lost. The clock was ticking in my head; I really need to be at this meeting I told myself.
I said “Bill (not his real name), I have to be at a meeting in 5 minutes, I really want to chat with you, say in 2 hours?” I was thinking he would say no, instead he said “See you at 1300hrs!” (He’s in the armed services). From experience I’ve learned these opportunities involve a lot of emotion.
The meeting was difficult and draining so I didn’t feel up to my 1pm appointment.
When I arrived, Bill was waiting for me. (Not a good sign, I said to myself.)
I had accidently pressed an emotional button in Bill earlier that day, and so for next 2 hours he poured out his tragic story.
In short he had been deployed overseas for 10 months as a UN peace keeper and when he had come home he found that his marriage was over and his kids very distressed. He blamed himself for the mess. He saw himself as a failure as a husband, father and as a provider. His self-esteem was a rock bottom. So I was concerned for his safety. He said he had nowhere to turn to, except to me as it turned out.
Much more has been said in the 10 sessions I have worked with Bill, even very recently. The impact of how Bill saw himself across his total life became the most profound part of the story. But over our time together, Bill came to know Christ as his Lord and Savior, and significant change happened.
We had considered in one session; 2 Corinthians 3:16-18 to 4:1-2, where it tells us, that where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty in our lives. We are also told, as we gaze in the mirror of God’s word by the Holy Spirit, that we are transformed each day, more and more to the image of Christ.
Now Bill tried to describe to me what this verse did to him. He said the hardest thing he found was to try and see himself as God sees him. He had a strong belief he was a failure and was unforgivable but this was being challenged by a voice within him. Despite him finding Christ he would still go fishing in his mind “re-living past sins and kicking himself all over again”.
On one occasion I introduced a small mirror and asked him see his reflection and answer two questions.
1. Look at the mirror you are holding, what do you see, what do you think of yourself really, not your appearance but the inner you.
2. If God was looking back at you, what would He see in your opinion?
Both answers were similar. I then asked him to consider a list of bible verses that demonstrates God’s love for us and how He really sees us.
He told me the light bulb went on in his head. And amongst his tears he had got it. He said he could now forgive himself and his wife. Gods Mirror had become his Looking Glass helping to correct his false images, false assumptions, beliefs and helping him to avoid making poor choices when sorting his life out.
All this came out of a chance meeting in a corridor and me trying to find reasons why I didn’t have the time to chat. Divine opportunities just pop up, even if we don’t want them to!
Are you looking for the people God brings into your life? Keep your eyes and ears open! You never know who you might meet in the hallway.
Asha Eda says
As someone made time for me, I must consciously do likewise, but out of love not guilt.
Grahame smith says
Very true Asha. Out of love from Christ through us to others.
Its important to stop and listen to those in need. We’re here to serve and who knows, one day we might need someone to stop and listen to our story.
I think we should all be asking God for these moments and getting prepared to be ready when He gives them to us.
Grahame Smith says
Thanks Dickon what you are recommending is exactly what Jesus did, asked God to show Him what he needed to before each day.
Neville Briggs says
A good example Grahame.
Over the years I had been led to believe that God’s leading and calling is to be understood as the supposed sacred mandate for those who enter “full time ” service. Which seemed to be mainly salaried sermon performance.
To prepare for this”calling” there was a large investment in training and qualifications required.
But how seldom had I seen the people known by that obscene word “laity” been encouraged and prepared to respond to God’s daily calling to be Christ to their neighbours.
The main qualification being faith.
I could be proved wrong but I suspect that the church would prosper if Christians spent more time noticing their neighbour than sitting in serried rows listening to lectures on the preacher’s favourite theological theory.
Grahame, I think you have shown in this example, that we can have a part to play in answering the prayer that Jesus taught us to say ” May Your Kingdom come, may Your will be done on earth as in Heaven”
Grahame Smith says
Thanks Neville we do have a very important part to play in being ministers of reconciliation. As Jeremy points out in his book death and resurrection of the church we all should be pushing out against the gates of hell and dwell at its edges ministering to the same people Jesus ministered to. I haven’t had to look very very far to find people with broken lives (even though it appears they are ok) once you build relationships the truth suddenly appears. Even middle class people have broken marriages, addictive issues, financial problems, emotional stress, grief and loss and self harm. Push further you find poverty and misery.
Grahame Smith says
Neville I forgot to mention that paid church leaders are expected to do all the heavy lifting in my experience and often it can be inward looking. The gathering gets taught that doing the gospel is more like something we can do, should do, consider doing, but only with permission from the Pastor in certain programs and places. Jesus didn’t do it this way. He sent out his followers to reach people after he himself modelled the how by doing it himself first, many times over. Thus I don’t think anything has changed for us today we have been sent out to do the same it only starts to work if we go out to and go to the dark places in people’s lives which is what Jesus did. For many to scary but if you build relationships first not so scary.
I agree Neville. Im reading a book called the forgotten ways by Alan Hirsch. Its a new not so new look at how to serve and be the church in an intentional proactive way. It has comfirmed some of my fears and answered some questions. Like Jeremy it challenges us to think outside the box and be really the church we should be.
Grahame Smith says
Dickon I’ve found we are the church and it follows us where ever we go. This way we leave the institution of church behind and follow Jesus to where he wants us.
Wonderful story. Thanks for sharing.
Sam Riviera says
Grahame, We too have found that we can be the church, the body of Christ, in the most ordinary circumstances and the most ordinary places. A simple comment to another shopper at the grocery about the quality of the produce may be all it takes to initiate a conversation. Aha! A friendly person who talks. We may be the only opportunity the other person has had that day or that week to tell what is on their mind. A conversation about peaches can quickly become a conversation about their lost job, recently deceased family member or any number of things.
In many situations we can be the body of Christ, Jesus-in-person so to speak, to the other. We do not need a priest’s robe or a clerical collar, stained glass windows or a pipe organ. We will both recognize that Jesus is in our midst. These opportunities can be so easily missed as we rush about our busy days and busy lives.
Grahame Smith says
Thank you for your insights Sam. Ive believe many Preachers have made the whole concept of evangalism and being Christ to people very complex, difficult and where you must be specifically trained. In my experience I found this to be untrue. In your reply the simplicity of being Christ to someone else is clearly reflected and as you said it happens in ordinary places, in simple ways during ordinary conversations. They can build relationships, where people start to trust and start to share their stories with you opening the door to Christ in both word and deed. Fortunately for us all God the Holy Spirit is ahead of us doing unexpected things (in our understadning) all we need to do is be open to opportunities. Thank you Sam.