My cousin recently told me that I could burn 300 calories just by spending 20 minutes in the sauna! Although I still think there must be a catch, I have been spending 20 minutes in the sauna lately after working out in the city pool. Whether or not it is actually burning calories, it has been helping me breathe and it has been clearing up my skin. It has also been a good place to think.
Just the other day as I made my way from the pool to the sauna, an elderly black man kindly held the door open for me and let me enter first. I remember thinking he reminded me of my father because my dad is about the same age, has similar dark skin and grey-white hair, and is always doing gentlemanly things like holding doors open for people. There were a few others in the sauna already. The group of men and women there were talking about graffiti that had been sprayed on a landmark in the center of town. One man, a white man in his early 40’s, started saying he knew who did it. He went on to say he had seen a Hispanic man in his early 20’s driving around town in a Denali and how a kid “like that” probably couldn’t even speak English and would not be able to afford a Denali except by being involved with drugs and all sorts of trouble. (Ironically, this man’s own use of the English language left much to be desired!) After hearing this, I promptly looked away and rolled my eyes. The elderly black man, however, very calmly and kindly started engaging the offending man in conversation. As I listened to the exchange, I was struck by the kindness and grace with which the elderly black man handled the conversation. I’m sure this wasn’t the first time that the elderly black man encountered racism, yet instead of blowing up, he asked rational, direct, piercing and yet gentle questions.
As I observed this exchange, I was convicted about my own unloving response of rolling my eyes and turning away. I was also reminded of how Jesus interacted with ignorant, slow, and sinful people in the Gospel accounts. I thought of His patience with the disciples who so often missed the point of what Jesus was saying. I thought of the loving way that Jesus engaged with the Samaritan woman even as He exposed her sin and her need of Him. I thought of Jesus’ compassion toward Mary and Martha at the death of their brother, even though He wanted them to trust Him. Then I thought of the way that Jesus pursues me despite the fact that I am ignorant, slow, and sinful! Before I was a Christian, Jesus pursued me until I could finally understand what it meant for Him to die for my sins. Even though I betray Him with my sin and with my unbelief, He still pursues me everyday! He doesn’t roll His eyes and turn away. He doesn’t write me off. He doesn’t lose hope for me. He IS my hope!
Heavenly Father, thank you for your love! Thank you for pursuing me at great cost to Yourself and to Your Precious Son Jesus! Forgive me for my lack of love. Please give me a heart of love for all of those around me--especially for those for whom it is hard for me to love. Please give me a heart to do the work of pursuing others out of Spirit-enabled sincere love. May I never write anyone off. Instead, give me a heart of faith in You--the God who does the impossible, the God who opens eyes and changes hearts. Thank you for your love for me. Thank you for not giving up on me. Thank you for your perfect example of how to love in a way that pursues and that is sacrificial. Thank you for freely giving me access to Your Spirit, Whom I desperately need in order to love like this. In Jesus’ Mighty Name, Amen.
Matthew 18:10-14 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. 12 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? 13 And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. 14 So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish."
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