I am currently writing this as I visit family in El Salvador and am in awe as we travel and see the countryside in this beautiful land. From the rich culture, vibrant foods, breathtaking mountains, and sun kissed beaches, this place is nothing short of glorious. God’s handiwork is evident in this land. We are enjoying the beauty around us. There is joy to be found if we take the time to notice.
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Stop and Take in Every Moment as if it Were Your Last
Too often I take for granted the people and places around me. Whether that be because I’m often preoccupied with my own wants/desires, too busy scrolling through my phone, or not being fully present whenever I’m with others. As I’m roaming the countryside in this beautiful land, I’m trying to take in every moment as if it were my last. Whether that be through savoring the different aromas around me, trying new tropical fruits, taking an inordinate amount of pictures, or having simple yet delightful conversations with family, I’m taking in as I possibly can.
Develop a Love For All
What have I gained by doing this? A love for the people and things around me. The culture in this nation is drastically different from that of the United States. The way people drive has more of a Laissze-faire approach, the streets are filled with salesmen and street food (that is absolutely delicious), and the soul of the nation is that of a joyous and rejoiceful people. My heart is especially tender as I reminisce and imagine my late grandmother who would’ve grown-up and walked the very streets I’m traveling on. You can read more about the journey of losing someone you love here.
But one thing has crossed my mind as I’ve been doing this. How often do I miss the opportunity to do this when I’m back home? How often do I miss an opportunity to share my faith, love others, and relish in God’s creation simply because I’m “not in the mood”? The past few days have been amazing, but the Holy Spirit truly has convicted me of what my life has been lacking in which has been a zeal and passion for the people in my life who I see on a daily basis.
Often while at one of the jobs I work, there’s a decent amount of dead time. Most of the time I put in an AirPod and keep to myself, but let me tell you about a time that God simply had his way. I had left my AirPods at a friend’s house the day before work, so naturally I found another distraction by bringing a book.
Seize Every Opportunity
As I was sitting down to begin the book, it fell from my hands and plopped on the floor right in front of my manager. The manager had picked it up and immediately asked “Are you one of those Christians?” And that’s where the fun began. We talked about why I was reading the book, their experience with Christianity and the church, and eventually her upbringing that heavily involved going to church every Sunday and being in Sunday School every weekend.
My manager was no stranger to Christianity. In a God only way, the book I happened to be reading that day was ,“The Master Plan of Evangelism”. Was it a coincidence that God had me bring a book with a title that was an area of weakness in my Christian walk? Or that my manager would know exactly what evangelism was and be able to talk faith during our shift? I think not. God’s beautiful design was providentially set into place because his plans are perfect, beautiful, and holy like no other. Whether the words I say inspire you or intimidate you, let us look at another story God himself laid out in the scriptures.
Love the People Around You
When we look at the life of Paul we see a plethora of things. We see a man who was radically changed from a life that was devoted to killing Christians, to an individual who would willingly suffer and eventually die for the sake of sharing and spreading the good news of the Gospel. Paul was no stranger to engaging with the people around him wherever he went. He traveled far and wide because he was “compelled” by the Holy Spirit despite knowing that in every city he will face imprisonments and afflictions that await him.
Finding True Joy
But Paul had a joy from God that didn’t change based on his circumstances. Scattered throughout his letters, a recurring theme of love for the city and people he visits is evident. In Acts 20:17-38, Paul is speaking with the elders (or leaders) of the church in Ephesus of when he’s leaving and what they should expect when he departs from their city. His proclamation to them displays that he shared all truth with them, had pure motive, and to watch for “…fierce wolves” that will come in and attack them. As he was finishing his words to them, he fell to his knees and prayed with them all and it’s even described that “There was much weeping on the part of all: They embraced Paul and kissed him, being sorrowful most of all because of the word that he had spoken, that they would notsee his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship” (Acts 20:36-38).
Why would Paul, through the Holy Spirit, include this beautiful section of love and mutual adoration for one another? My hunch is that it is so that our hearts would grow to love the beauty of God found in the Bible, be encouraged by the saints of the past, and to model this in our own lives. The words spoken show the common bond that all who believe in Jesus Christ share because of our unity with our savior. That the very second we believe, we have a whole new family in whom we are eternally adopted into.
How does this happen? It happens through us being given a new identity that Christ himself gives us. He removes our sin washed hearts, and gives us glorious robes of righteousness. We no longer have to live or be slaves to sin, but can be slaves to Christ and his goodness. The way to summarize our identity is through this verse:
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the son of God, who loved me and gave himself for meGalatians 2:20)
My prayer for you is that you’d see that God is eternally delightful, he desires for you to engage with the world around you, and to love people fiercely because of the love that you have been loved with by Christ. God Bless.