“I have something to say to you. It is extremely important,” he said, when he came up to me.
I’ve been a pastor long enough to know that any statement that begins this way usually means I’m in trouble for some reason. However, as he began to choke up, I suspected something else was going on. With the next words out of his mouth he had my full attention.
“You literally saved my life.”
“I’m serious. A few months ago I was sitting over there (as he pointed to an area of the Celebration Center) on a Saturday night. I was going to commit suicide.”
He went on to tell me about the recurrence of skin cancer just under his scalp, and the pain that results from it.
“You walked out of the Green Room, where you guys pray before the services, and you walked right to me. You took my hand to shake it, while putting your other hand on my upper arm. You said, ‘It’s good to see you tonight. Thank you for being here.’”
I have a vague memory of that night.
“That greeting changed everything for me.”
I’d like to say that I was consciously led by some spiritual sense of purpose as I greeted him those months ago. However, that would be a lie. I just did what I always try to do: show the love of Christ in any and every situation.
Verses 4-7 of Philemon say, “I always thank my God when I pray for you, Philemon, because I keep hearing about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God’s people. And I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ. Your love has given me much joy and comfort, my brother, for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God’s people.”
People are under assault today – spiritually, emotionally, physically – the onslaught is unceasing. And, though this experience might represent an extreme example, people are desperate to experience the love of God in tangible ways. Jesus’ heart for the poor includes those poor in spirit.
We never know what God is going to use to impact another person’s life. Be kind, love, encourage, hug…who knows, you might even save a life.