"Atta girl / atta boy.
What an honor when a person trusts us enough to build a relationship with us. Perhaps the greatest joy in ministry is to see another person move closer to God and to see spiritual growth in them as they learn to trust again. Let me tell you about a young lady named Kareena.
When I first met her about 18 months ago, she wouldn't look up from the floor. She was withdrawn, maybe a bit angry, and quite timid. This little gal also possessed an incredible artistic flair. Nothing she drew would end up in the Louvre (yet), but she still created some beautiful treasures. I can remember the first time I told her how much I appreciated her art. Her head raised a little and she half smiled. Not one week later, she timidly handed me a crayon drawing. I commented how beautiful it was and was told by the teacher that Kareena had drawn the art for me. I asked Kareena if the drawing was for me and she nodded yes.
Well, that picture has been taped to my office door since the day she gave it to me about 17 months ago. Kareena has grown and matured some. She walks with her chin up a bit higher now and her smile is more evident. She is still timid but that is normal for her age.
Just this past Sunday, she handed me this Valentine. It was a deja vu all over again. Only this encounter did not include a withdrawn child or one who displayed anger. The card she offered me the other day came with a smile of accomplishment and joy on her face that would light up the darkest night. For me, the moment on Sunday was worth more than one hundred finished sermons or half marathons.
Perhaps I would have never seen Kareena's face shine like the sun if I had pitched her initial artwork into the trash 17 months ago or had never complimented her giftedness in art. Most days, we'll never find the cure for cancer nor be picked for a Nobel prize. In fact, most days we will do the mundane things and offer seemingly insignificant encouragements. Our work won't seem to change the gravitational pull of the earth, but for those for whom we offer a "way to go" or and "atta girl" it has the possibility of changing the trajectory of their lives in a major way.
Today, we'll walk by 10-20 people, perhaps more maybe less. How will you and I lift heads of crestfallen folks? Will we? Or, will we whisk by them so absorbed in our thoughts and problems and miss prime opportunities to draw people closer to their God? That would be a shame...
"Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked." (John 5:2-9, NIV)
As followers of Jesus and those filled with God's Spirit we have the power to transform lives for Jesus Christ. In scripture, one could successfully argue we are commissioned and commanded to do this. Opportunities to transform lives are never farther than arm's reach. Let's exercise our love of God and people to make difference in the 'Kareena's' of the world. Enjoy those smiles that are offered back to us! It means we are doing it right.