It has occurred to me that Alberta is a cold place. A very cold place. So cold that I hesitate to go downtown. I'd rather wash my hair with hand soap than leave my house to buy some shampoo. I'd much rather stay in my house, wrapped in a fuzzy blanket, and read a book all day. Outside is so uninviting this time of year.
But if I really think about it... I'm not all over going around town by myself in the spring or summer, either. I'd much rather stay at home, or hang out with friends. Just friends. When it comes right down to it- public places here are just a bother. I clam up completely when I go places by myself. If I'm not with my friends, then I'm not social at all. I'm just a shy little girl looking at the floor, only speaking when spoken to. It doesn't matter how warm it is outside... I'm always cold.
I stay out of people's way. I pretend I'm not there. I get what I need, I do what needs to be done, and then I'm outta there. It works pretty well, because most people around here aren't much different. When it comes to strangers and being alone in public places, most of us turn into efficient task-oriented robots. There's nothing more to us than our mission. There's no personality, there's no character.
Don't believe me? Just think of the last time you walked somewhere. How did you interact with the people you passed? Did you smile? Did you mumble a 'hello'? Or did you brush past them, keeping your gaze fixed on your feet? Think about the last time you stood in line at the grocery store. Did you attempt to strike up a conversation with the people around you? Or did you pretend to be engrossed in the display magazine titles? Or did you take out your phone and text furiously?
Two years ago, I went to the poverty-stricken, dirty, dangerous third-world country of Guatemala. There, I learned what warmth was. Yes, it was humid and hot and our clothes stuck to our skin at all times. But I learned what it meant to show love to anyone and everyone. Never have I met people so open, so cheerful, so excited to greet you. They were all strangers to me, but they did not walk with their eyes cast on the ground. They did not mumble an 'Hola,' nor did they ignore the people that crossed their paths. They treated every individual as a priority. They placed people over projects. They had an agenda, they had schedules. But the importance of their daily errands was never placed above their interactions with others. When talking to others, their attention was undivided. They understood the value of every individual. They understood how to love. They were self-sacrificing.
That's How You Change the World by the Newsboys is a compelling song, especially for folks here in Canada and America. Here up North where it's cold- in more ways than just one. It outlines how the way God would arrange our priorities is different than how we naturally do.
"It's the prayer in an empty room, Little things we do when nobody's around
A hand reaching out to a heart in doubt, It's the smallest spark that can light the dark.
That's how you change the world.
... A million little drops of rain Can be enough to cause a tidal wave
A flood of your love that no one can contain.
... It's the kind words, a simple smile, more than showing up- going the extra mile.
It's giving everything when you've got nothin' left, sharin' a little hope with a single breath..
That's how you change the world."
This week I've been learning that my dreams and passions to change the world won't get anywhere without love. Consistent. Blind. Wholeheartedly. Crazy. Love visited this place called earth once upon a time, and the world hasn't stopped talking about it since. That's how you change the world.
That song has been playing in my head for the past few days. It popped into my mind as I stood in line at the checkout counter, among other strangers. It started playing as I was teaching a dance class, and as I coached young swimmers. I have goals for the future- for when I'm graduated and ready to do something in this world. But I'm missing all the opportunities God is giving me RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW to start fulfilling those dreams!!
Whether I'm in the mall, at the bank, walking down the street, or speaking to thousands, there are always chances to spread Jesus. This world is filled with so much darkness. No way could we ever give enough love. People are desperate. There is no such thing as 'big' or 'small' acts of love in the Kingdom. And that's the beauty of it!
And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers,
you will surely be rewarded.
"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you have me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.'
Then these righteous ones will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see the hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?
And the King will say, 'I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!'"
We are going to have to do better than mumbling a 'hello' to the lost and forgotten.
Let's warm up Alberta.