Investing IN People?
Hello Hump Day Readers, good to have you along with my journeys. Today my thoughts turn to something I find incredible, powerful and obviously deeply “love-driven.” It’s what is happening in the Caldor Fire at Lake Tahoe, and the Afghanistan refugees camps, and our teachers, first responders, and oh—a little boy featured on CBS News the other day who is partially blind but has learned to knit from his grandmother. He is making socks and hats for the homeless.
I could go on and on but all this was a reminder that sometimes our investments in life are NOT financial, but the rewards far outweigh a good return on the investment. Let’s start in Ohio! I read this story a few months ago and it caught my heart, I hope it does for you, too.
A small rural church in Ohio has suffered a great loss during the pandemic—folks dying, or still ill from the virus, and others who lost their jobs, and those who had businesses that are gone or running on a shoe-string and have had to lay off people. This scenario isn’t new, it’s repeating around our country and our world. But this story has people wanting to DO something about it and I love what they did.
This church began coming together, still using 6’ distancing and masks, for worship. Smart people I think. Anyway, the pastor, organist, Sunday-school teachers and the church secretary were concerned about people’s mental health and how depression and loneliness was invading lives that were impacted by the pandemic. They had stopped Sunday evening services, but decided to have a gathering on a Sunday night to specifically share prayer requests and praises with one another. They arranged rides, moved chairs for distancing, and made all the necessary protocols so people felt safe and yet could gather together.
It turned out to be quite a success as folks in town not affiliated with the church came. Many of the congregants also invited their friends who were down and out and scared. It got to the point where distancing was getting difficult so, on a sunny June early evening they moved it all outside, including the microphones and speakers! Refreshments were offered while folks moved stuff outside, and then their time began and oh—what a time it was for all.
The last 15 minutes of the gathering was for “open-mike” time. Folks shared prayers or short stories and just as time was running out, a woman in her early 30’s stood up and nervously sauntered forward. She was not part of this church but was invited by her neighbors who went there. You could hear the nervous tremble in her voice when she began, but as she went on it was obvious the Holy Spirit was giving her courage…she said:
“I want to praise God for my grandmother, who died recently from Covid. She’s the one who took me to church when I was young and introduced me to Jesus. She was a source of stability in my life when my parents divorced. I called her ‘a port in my storm’. Actually, had it not been for my grandmother, I shudder to think how my life would have turned out. Even though I have often failed, her example to me has been my beacon and I thank God for her. To me, she truly was the epitome of Jesus on this earth.
And now, I am here because of my neighbors who have urged me to come tonight and find healing. My grandmother may be gone, but I remember her telling me “Sweetie, you gotta invest in others and they will invest in you” just like my neighbors here did. Perhaps as we leave tonight we can all think of someone who needs us to invest in them. Thank you for letting me share my story.”
Oh friends, we have so many people who need to know the love of Jesus right now, and that includes those with faith as well as those who are searching or those who’ve crossed God out of their lives. They need to know that our loving Savior has never crossed them out, has never belittled them for wondering or searching… Our Jesus doesn’t give up, instead he daily invests in all of us—ALL of us. And he asks us to do the same.
Watching the folks in the California fires who have lost their homes and livestock and yet are investing their time to help others, those helping refugees who are helping other refugees they don’t even know, our teachers who know the risks of in-school learning but have stepped up to help in masks and protocols, and the thousands of hours from all our 1st responders who just will not give up and invest their time to keep us safe and well—often at their peril. Look at what they have all invested—many of them with people they don’t even know!!
What are you investing in today? Is the bottom line of your IRA more important than the heart of Jesus who beats in you and gives you life so you can share that life with another? The impact we can make is beyond anything we could think or imagine when we invest in people because that investment comes with the backing of the Holy Spirit – no financial planner can give you that kind of security!
And yes, you may not have a quick return on that investment, in fact, it could cost you financially along with your time and your willingness to establish a relationship. Like your financial investments, not everything goes right but there is one promise that you can rely on and it’s right from God’s word, using The Message Bible: Isaiah 55: 8-11:
[God speaking] Here is My Decree
“For as the sky soars high above earth,
so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
and the way I think is beyond the way you think.
Just as rain and snow descend from the skies
and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth,
Doing their work of making things grow and blossom,
producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,
So will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do, they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.
I close this devotion with the words of the Apostle John, “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” —1 John 4:11