If you need proof of this, ask yourself this question: how many times have you determined in the morning to just love people today, and you hold onto that until...you actually run into people that day? Because you have prepared for love, but not persons. You have prepared your reaction, but not to these circumstances. Life is dynamic. It's messy. When you run into something you're not prepared for, it changes what you've decided you will do. Because you haven't thought about it like this.
So yes, I love people beforehand as often as I can because it reminds me to be present to them in whatever moment we're about to encounter. And once I get that patient list? I start loving people by name.
But stuff happens and circumstances change and that pre-love can be a tricky situation, so there is something else I do to make my days meaningful. And that is this: I consider the Lord's work.
This is what you do when you're getting into something you can't quite put tangibles to yet, but you know you either have to or should do it. It feels like the right thing to do. It is the right thing for you to be doing. But if you don't guard your heart in a moment like this, it quickly becomes that thing you are supremely doing and you start to feel like it's about you. About something you have to offer. And you create that power differential again, before the moment's even begun.
Why do we keep doing that? It's nothing but trouble.
So here's the truth: if whatever you're about to do feels like what you should be doing, and not out of guilt or out of obligation but deep down in your heart, you know it is a good thing for the sake of a purely good thing, then what you are stepping into is the Lord's work. Which means two things: first, that it is you-shaped. It is some vacant spot in the universe that only you will fit perfectly into. And second, God has graced you to find it. Perhaps He has led you there.
Both are blessings.
When you think about these things on your way in, you take away that power play. You humble yourself so you're ready to walk in beside whatever is happening. Not above it. Not outside of it. You walk directly in and you're in the midst of it, which is where you should be if you hope to do your best work, don't you think?
You realize that there is something created in you that is meant for this. That gives you a sense of confidence, of purpose, of worth. It gives you a sense of belonging in that place and you're not questioning whether you're doing what you should be doing; you know you are. And you realize that God has ordained this moment, that there's something powerful of Him that is present here. That gives you a sense of expanding smallness, that little bit you do in the middle of a great big thing, and of confident hope and good faith that this is going to be worth your while and that it's going to be good. (I hate to even say the former because it shouldn't be about that, but for many of us, it's about that. Isn't it?)
It's all about putting you in your place so you can begin to be a part of His. Whether it's what I talked about yesterday in that you love people instead of helping them or this point today about being conscious of the Lord's work when you don't know who or how you're loving yet, it's about preparing your heart and mind to be present to the moment that you're blessed to be a part of.
I think there was some misunderstanding after yesterday's post. None of this is about stopping doing the good things. Actually, you're doing the very same things! You're doing the helping acts. You're doing the daily duties. You're just preparing yourself in your heart so that these things are not a drain on you; rather, they fuel you. Because you're actually there to experience them.
All this is coming from my heart, from a place that realizes all the moments I've missed because I thought I was doing something else and I wasn't ready to be in those moments. I'm thinking about the people I have spent all day helping only to come home and realize I didn't love them once. I'm thinking about the things I've done that have just felt like busyness and only in hindsight have I realized they should have been holy. I'm thinking about how it's all too easy to live our way through this life we have without engaging our hearts in the moments unfolding all around us. I'm thinking about how terribly sad that is.
So I encourage you, from one heart that's missed too many moments to another, love someone today. Actively love them. Decide in your heart that you're going to love them before you even get to their doorstep. And if you don't know who you're loving, consider the Lord's work. Let the providence of these moments sink into your heart. He's created you for this, and He's been gracious enough to lead you to this very place so that you get to be a part of it. That's no accident. What you're doing is good work. It is very good.
It is also holy. Don't ever forget that.