Short-term for the Long haul: The Observant Way

This past summer I was in a conversation about short term mission experiences with some friends. This group of people all seemed to think it was easier to serve on a short term mission trip than in their daily lives. This led to a conversation about the way of Jesus and how he served while here.

One of things that I noticed as part of His way was that Jesus walked an observant way. There is a story in Luke chapter 7 that I’ve come to love. It is a short story, but it is a perfect example of the observant way.

Jesus had just left one town where he was involved in healing work and serving and was going to another. Traveling with him were his friends and a large crowd. His attention was being asked for from many.  As they walked into town there was a funeral procession that passed by Jesus and his crowd of followers. It is at this point of the story that Luke records a very simple act of Jesus, Jesus saw. It’s easy to pass by those words, but they are two key words to knowing how to live in the way of Jesus.

The next phrase gets even better.  Luke tells us that When Jesus saw her, his heart went out to her.  I love this! Jesus was observant. Although, He didn’t simply see alone. He saw and his heart responded.

But wait! That’s not the end of the story. Sure it is beautiful that Jesus, in the midst of a busy schedule took time to see what went on around him. And it is powerful that not only did Jesus observe, he also had compassion, his heart responded to what he observed. And that led to Jesus interupting his schedule to act.

The story goes on to recall Jesus speaking to the widow, “Don’t Cry.” He said and then he went and touched the coffin and told the young man in side to get up! The young man did just that, he got up out of the coffin and was given back to his grieving mother.

Jesus lived an observant way. He lived with his eyes open to those around him. He observed, he felt and he acted.

One of the realities of a short term mission trip is that we are often given a directive to look for ways to serve. “When you see a need, respond to it.” Our eyes and hearts are told, for these next two weeks look with these eyes and respond to it out of your heart. But somehow, that directive doesn’t carry over into life as usual. We leave our eyes and hearts in whatever place we were in and go back to life as usual.

A directive has been given in the invitation to follow in the way of Jesus. And Jesus my friends, lived an observant way. So today as you go, look for need and respond to it! Pray too that you will be given eyes to see, a heart that will be with others and the bravery to act in response.

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