Love is a Relay Race

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What difference can a single act of love make?  Here in LA, we’re surrounded by so many people every day, that it can become easy, and even second nature, to tune out those around us.  We forget how each person we pass by carries with them a story and a heart.  Our friend Michelle shares an incredibly touching and inspirational testimony of how taking a chance to do an act of kindness can change someone’s life forever.

Even as a kid, I always had a heart for helping the homeless. Growing up, when I heard sermons about helping the poor, my idealistic elementary school kid mind would dream of meeting a homeless person, taking him/her in, and providing a place to stay, food to eat, clothes to wear – basically, everything to start a new life.

In college, I volunteered with a couple of organizations that are designed to help the homeless in various ways, whether by providing free medical care, food, social services, etc. As excited as I was to start volunteering with those organizations, I quickly became disillusioned. While the childhood version of me always dreamed of turning someone’s life around 180 degrees, I found myself only able to make a seemingly miniscule change in people’s lives.

I would see the same people coming back to receive the same services, and seemed like nothing had changed in their lives. They were still stuck in the same spot, and many continued to have the same problem. It was almost as if all the work I poured into helping them didn’t really make much of an impact.

I felt frustrated, powerless, and small. It made me cynical to the point that I stopped giving money/food to homeless people because I didn’t think it would really make a difference – it won’t change the fact that they’re homeless. I realized I’d much rather make a big difference in a small number of people’s lives rather than make a small difference in a large number of lives.

A while back, Dan shared a story about how he was at a Subway and felt like God was moving him to feed a homeless man that was standing outside the window. I was encouraged by his post because I saw that Dan’s gesture made a tangible difference.

A few days later, I saw a homeless man looking through the trash. I stopped near him as I waited to cross the street…[Click “Read More” Below to Continue]

He asked me for some food, and I instantly felt compassion for him. I asked him what he wanted, and he said he wanted a cheeseburger, which was fortunate because there was a Fatburger right across the street. We went there together and I told him he could have whatever he wanted. While I was paying for his meal, he put his hands together, looked up and whispered, thank you for providing for me today. For the first time, it hit me that maybe God’s plan isn’t always for me to make a huge difference in people’s lives. Maybe sometimes, He wants me to be humble and do even just the small things.

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to serve at a foot-washing event for the homeless. We would wash their feet, talk to them about Jesus and pray with them. I remember one man in particular whose feet I washed. He was hesitant as he took off his shoes, warning me that his feet were disgusting. I gave him some encouragement and told him that I would be prepared for anything.

As he took off his socks, I realized he wasn’t exaggerating – his feet were dry, crusted, and a ton of flakes began to fly everywhere. As I began washing his feet, tears started streaming down his face. When I asked him what was wrong, he said, “My feet are so disgusting – I can’t believe you’re touching them!” I told him, “All I’m doing is washing your feet. Jesus died for you – that’s how much He loves you.”

While this man had said he believed in God, it seemed like the magnitude of Jesus’ sacrifice suddenly struck him. Again, God reminded me of how the small things we do really matter. After all, all I did was wash this man’s feet. But my actions made a world of a difference, enough for this grown man to shed tears.

I think serving others, and even evangelizing, can best be described as a relay race. Sometimes you may be the person that finishes the race and can see the end result, whether it be someone giving their life to Christ or having their life changed around completely. Other times, you may just be the one that hands the baton off to someone else and never get to see the finish line yourself. But each person in that relay race matters just as much, and sometimes what God wants is for you to humble yourself and simply obey Him, even if what He asks is not the way in which you want to serve Him.  In the end, God is always moving, always working his love to reach people, and it’s a blessing just to be asked to run with Him.