My grandmother Sabina was a saint that I had the privilege to meet personally. She had no birth certificate, but went to school long enough to learn how to read well. She read her Bible daily and never missed a Sunday mass. She was kind and gentle, yet never missed an opportunity to teach us something to build our character, like the time my sister, my cousins, and I stole fruit from the neighbors. She only had to look at us when we got home to know we’d been up to mischief. After we admitted what we’d done, she had us go back and apologize.
Have you ever wanted to do something to help someone or longed to make a difference in the world, only to have your good intentions sidetracked by thoughts of why your efforts wouldn’t work?
One such occasion happened last summer when my wife and I stopped to eat at a fast food restaurant that serves fried chicken. After placing our order, we brought our trays of food to a table in the middle of the dining area.
One winter some years ago, a group of friends and I were traveling on a mountain road in a passenger van in the southern United States. It was past dusk on a Friday evening, and we were heading to a ski resort a few hours away. We were nearly there when someone pulled up next to us at a stop sign and motioned to the driver to roll the window down.
“Pretty sure your back tire’s losing air,” he said. “I can take a look if you’d like.”
I teach you how to have love through My own example. For every great miracle I do for you and all those who love Me, I do countless tiny things that you may barely notice. Those steady demonstrations of My care, My unconditional love, My touches of hope, strength, mercy, and forgiveness, day in and day out, continually manifest My love for you. This multitude of little things that I do for you increases your peace and faith. These things nurture the conviction in your heart that I am real and active in your life, and that I will be forever.
The small cafeteria at our workplace was abuzz with chatter. Colleagues sat in groups and the room was humming with conversation. That morning I felt I had little to contribute and opted to sit alone. Staring out the window, I was lost in troubled contemplation of recent loss, rough edges in my working relationships, and a nagging health issue, and I wondered when I would finally reach the proverbial end of the tunnel where the sun shines again.
Good listening takes effort. Notice the traits of the people whom you enjoy talking to, the good listeners. They show their interest with their eyes, posture, and the ways they react. It’s a sort of indescribable mood that says, I enjoy listening to you. You’re important to me. A calmness and patience about them tells you, Take your time. I have nothing more vital to do at the moment than to hear what you have to say.
One busy day, I was trying to get my boys to their computer classes on time when we realized that we couldn’t find one of their textbooks nor the house key. More frayed nerves and frantic running around. In the midst of it all, my phone beeped. It was a text message from a number I didn’t recognize, and I was taken by surprise by what I read:
At the time Paul wrote his letter to the church in Philippi, he was languishing in a Roman prison, yet in his introduction, he describes true happiness not as him being released, but as the Christians there having loving, harmonious relations with one another. Then he goes on to describe how they can do that:
It was Christmas Eve. I was in a hurry, trying to finish my work early and prepare for the evening with my family and friends, when the phone rang. I answered impatiently, “Yes, hello?”
“Merry Christmas, Lilia!” the voice on the other end cheerfully exclaimed in accented English.
The Bible tells us that we see through a glass darkly. This refers to our limited ability to grasp the full spiritual realities of heaven, but I believe that our limited perception also affects our ability to fully understand the hearts of others who we encounter here and now. We often fail to see others as Jesus sees them, as His beloved whom He would have paid any price for. He sees in them a beautiful spirit that He has created and He sees what they can become in Him.