The first time I passed him, I hardly gave him a thought. He was just one of many at the gym that Wednesday, squeezing in a workout during the lunch hour. The only difference? He wore dress slacks and a dress shirt, and he must’ve been almost eighty years old.
I did my best to push any thoughts of him to the side. Earbuds in and music loud, I kept walking, circling the track like a woman on a mission. I had very little time, and I needed a workout. I didn’t have space for interruptions or diversions.
But then my heart twisted the second lap around. He sat on one of the many circuit training machines, eyes closed and hands in his lap. I couldn’t tell if he was napping. Or praying.
I feel ya, buddy, I thought as I passed him again.
It wasn’t until the third lap that I noticed the splint on his right arm, black velcro wrapped around wrist and thumb. I wondered if his workout included a bit of physical therapy, rehabilitating whatever he’d injured.
By lap four, five, and six, his presence pulled at my heart.
Okay, God. What’s up?
I’ve slowly learned to pay attention to these strange heart-tugs when they happen, even though I rarely know what to do with them.
As I circled the track, I waited for divine directive. I’m not sure what I expected — maybe a memo on the wall or God-talk through my headphones. I wanted specifics, something to convince me I wasn’t being dramatic. Instead, all I got was a vague pull toward an elderly man napping on a chest-press machine.
Help me out, God. I need more than that.
Rather than audible direction, I felt the same nebulous nudge:
Go talk to him.
That’s it. Go talk to him. This was madness.
But what if he’s offended at my boldness? What if he thinks I’m crazy or, worse, condescending? What if he’s put off by my attempt to be friendly? Maybe he wants to be left alone. Talking to him would be rude, right?
Excuses, every one. I was downright brilliant at coming up with reasons not to be uncomfortable, not to be inconvenienced. As if it even mattered if my kindness could be mistaken for rudeness.
What began as a tug of love toward another human quickly morphed into a tug to preserve myself. I was more committed to my own comfort than the possibility of offering a little bit to someone else, more concerned with maintaining my own position than to step into someone else’s.
You’d think I’d know better by now.
I wish this was the only time I’ve resisted a show of unconditional love because of my own agenda. I have tasks, to-dos, people to see, and places to go. With six children and a full-time job, my life is full, demanding, often more than I can handle.
But Jesus — the one who carried the weight of humankind on His shoulders — followed a different standard. He lived a short thirty-three years, and His mission weighed far more than mine.
And yet, no one was more interruptible and willing to be uncomfortable than He was. Everywhere He went, people pulled at Him. They interrupted His prayers, interfered with His meals, inconvenienced His calendar, challenged His words. Didn’t they know He had important work to do?
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
John 15:13 (NIV)
Real love is willing to die — not just to life, but also to self.
A Jesus-love is willing to be inconvenienced. It’s willing to lose face, lose time, lose comfort. And it’s willing to take a risk and rearrange a schedule for the possibly opportunity to show someone life-dying love.
Although it took me far too many laps around the gym track, I finally walked over and introduced myself.
“Hi there,” I said, mustering my biggest smile. “I noticed you working out. A-a-a-and just wanted to say, ‘Way to go!’ You’re doing great.”
Lame, I know. He chuckled and offered a big smile. We shook hands and shared names. And then, for a few sweet minutes, we chatted long enough for me to find out Bill was visiting with his bride from Florida. It wasn’t much, but it was a start.
It’s now been a several weeks since our encounter. Bill is back in Florida, and I’m back to my to-dos. But I hope I’m not the same. I hope I’m less inclined to save face and more inclined to look into someone else’s. Even if it costs me time, convenience, comfort and a Wednesday workout.
Why? Because I want to look like the Undying Love that was willing to die. For you and for me.
A Jesus-love is willing to be inconvenienced. It’s willing to lose face, lose time, lose comfort. -@MicheleCushatt: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Oh how I want to be “interruptible”! I want to walk like Jesus and not look at others taking my time as an unwanted inconvenience. Jesus had time for people that others never would have had time for. But, in order to to that, He also needed to withdraw from the crowds and spend time with His Father. May I seek to have that balance of time with God so that I will be more willing to be interrupted when I feel that undeniable “nudge” from the Holy Spirit. Thanks for a much needed reminder!
Michele Cushatt says
Yes, exactly. The more I’m connected to God in private, the more I’m able to sense his prompting in public. They go hand in hand. Thanks, Bev.
Nancy VanBruggen says
Oh Michele! Thank you for this post! I have been there so many times! Sometimes I am obedient and respond to the Spirit’s direction. Sometimes I have been too embarassed, selfish, or full of excuses. Every single time I am obedient God has blessed me and the recipient of my taking time to stop and do something kind, reach out and speak, or make a connection. It has opened up doors of opportunity to share love and grace, and I think God smiles. And it always fills my heart with such joy! What a great reminder to all of us to be sensitive to God’s leading without reservation. Blessings on your day, my Friend.
Michele Cushatt says
Thank you, Nancy. Like you, every time I’m obedient, God blesses my socks off. It’s so worth it.
Beth Williams says
We live in a fast paced world. So many distractions & to dos. We end up rushing from here to there trying to get it all done. In the meantime we miss the little nudges or interruptions God has for us. I am guilty of being impatient. Not wanting to be delayed in getting my “chores/to dos” done. God on the other hand welcomed those diversions. He saw it as a time to talk one on one with someone & possibly make another convert. He purposely went out of His way to seek the lost. Those that society deemed unlovable. I pray that we would have eyes & ears to be more attentive to His nudgings. May we be more interruptible. More willing to lose face,, time & leave our comfort zones to show Jesus’s love to others.
Michele Cushatt says
I think that’s the part that convicted me most—how Jesus was so willing to stop what he was doing and where he was going to engage in a conversation, a touch, a healing, an encouragement. He had THE most critical agenda. But he also recognized that agenda was for the people right in front of him. Thanks, Beth.
Thanks for this reminder. I shudder to think of the many “tugs” I have ignored or reasoned away….hoping and praying that I can be intentional and pay closer attention to ‘God moments’! I want to use up every single thing he gives me!
Bev, love reading your comments! You are a wise woman!
Michele Cushatt says
Me too, Indiane. There is one particular nudge I experienced—and ignored—years ago at a post office. And to this day I can’t forget it. The regret from that experience has become the impetus to doing it differently next time.
Our mission in life is to lead others to Jesus and entry to heaven to be a witness! Let us all have the nudge of the Holy Spirit as we meet others daily.
Michele Cushatt says
Amen! Thanks, Kamilah.
So very true!!! We need to listen to those promptings!! I also don’t listen sometimes, and miss out on the blessing of being obedient. Thank you for a great reminder!!
Michele Cushatt says
I’m with you, Sister. 🙂
I needed this today. I’m in the middle of an ongoing nudge to keep talking to a friend who has hurt me bad and I just dont want to be hurt again. And I struggle with these nudges to know if they’re from God or not. And I know that’s Satan working to keep me from listening and responding. I’m in a season of struggle of Satan undermining my confidence in what I’m hearing or nudges I’m feeling from God.
Lisa Hardin says
God always knows what we need and when we need it. I can’t thank you enough for this beautiful reminder of our Lord never leaving us when we step out in faith. Dying to self (my wants, my needs, my way, my desires) has a whole new understanding for me. As empty nesters I envisioned a carefree life of serving along side my husband on our terms. God had a much different plan. After raising three beautiful children, seeing them start lives and careers of their own we decided to become host parents to children in crisis situations. Always short term and when it was convenient with our schedules. Little did we know our first hosting to a seven week old drug exposed baby and his four year old brother would go from a two week commitment to providing a forever home. So yes, I have five children 3-33. They have invaded every inch of our heart and our home. We had a thousand reasons why we did not want to do this. We love to travel, already done this with our own children, love my sleep, just bought a new white sofa, our friends thought we were crazy to name a few. Every single reason why was truly worldly desires of the flesh. So we said yes and have no regrets. But there are many days like today that I am tired and battle weary. That is why I thank you for you comforting words. They are like a soothing salve to a weary soul. Our littles officially joined our family one year ago yesterday. This morning I had a beautiful vision of our family strolling around the farmers market with muffins and coffee instead it was an overcrowded nightmare with a screaming toddler. As the tears started to flow during my favorite time of the day nap time I found your encouraging words and a beautiful reminder of what Jesus experienced on mission. “A Jesus-love is willing to be inconvenienced. It’s willing to lose face, lose time, lose comfort”. Well said.
Diana Flores says
Wow…wow…wow Lisa!!! First and foremost thank you so much for sharing with amazing honesty and transparency .
Next I want to thank you for great reminder of what it means to take our eyes off ourselves and keep them focused on Jesus and others. I am in the midst of trying to discover what my purpose and reason ( God’s assignment) is for being on this earth. It looks like you have discovered yours in so many ways. Praise God!!
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
How often shyness get the better of us as well. Sometimes we don’t know if God speaking by the Holy Spirit to us to go say Hello to even that lonely person. Like us in our Church the Salvation Army Our Salvation Army Officer says too us every week after Church before we leave. Who are you going to Bless this week. Stop even say Hello too. Listen to their stories. You might be the only person they have seen all week. Especially if they trust you and know you will tell no one else or can get them the help they need. You are then being the hands and feet of Jesus and doing as Children song says. Jesus hands where kinds hands doing good too all. It such a lovely song. Thank for another lovely reading. You know going to talk too that man you could have blessed him more than you will ever know. God will bless you for doing that. That you talked about in today’s reading. I have blessed people in the passed by asking them to meet me for coffee knowing they don’t have much money and can’t afford the treat. I have bought them a cup in a coffee shop along with a scone sat and listened to their problems and told them I pray for them. Which I know I have made there day alot brighter for them by knowing I care. By doing that I have blessed them as Christian. Love Dawn xxx
This old man was my dad (not exactly my dad in the story but in general). He loved going to the gym, even after stroke-related dementia made it very difficult, he still tried his best. The people he met at the gym were his people. The kindness of strangers meant everything to us, knowing he still had a world of his own even while he felt so helpless. He died 17 months ago tomorrow. Thank you for being a friendly face and taking the time.. it means so much, more than you know.
Bridget @ bridgetathomas.com says
Yes! This post really hit home. Thank you so much for sharing this. I really needed it.
Bonnie Gray says
I love how you’re always senstive to God’s whispers – and you move in His direction and prompting just as you are! and in the process, show us the way – through your journey!!I’m moved by your vulnerable words, speaking from a place that is honest and also touched by what God has whispered to you.I’ve been SO blessed by your spirit and love through the speaker’s conference and spending time with you – and now I’m looking forward to seeing you in just a little bit at the (in)courage retreat and enjoy your company this week, friend! 🙂 with love, Bonnie