I don’t know how people live in this world without knowing Jesus. I am not trying to simplify life by saying that religion will fix everything. In fact, I know that having some sort of faith often complicates life instead. I have never believed that getting saved will solve all of my problems. I have just learned that knowing Jesus means that I have someone to turn to, someone who understands, someone who loves me.
I have always been a people watcher. One of my teachers told my mom that if she wanted to know what was happening in class that she would ask me because I watched everyone. As a teacher myself, this skill of being observant helps me to check in with kids who seem to be struggling either academically or personally. And beyond the classroom, I have watched people’s behaviors to determine how I should act. Early on I realized that I didn’t want to make some of the choices that some people made because I didn’t want to face the consequences that they seemed to be experiencing. As an adult, I still watch people, but my observations are much different than they were when I was a kid.
Now, I watch people through social media. Throughout my adult life, I have built relationships with people from coast to coast, mostly because my husband and I have moved between California and Virginia several times. Many of the friends I have on Facebook are from various churches where we have ministered over the years. Other friends are former students that are now married with their own families. And a few of my friends are those whom I have known since middle and high school. I don’t have a lot of connection with friends from high school, but occasionally, I check in with them, mostly through scrolling through their profiles and pages. As we have all aged, it is fun to watch our kids grow up and to see where we have all landed across the country. However, I have also witnessed broken marriages, broken hearts, and broken lives.
This weekend, one of my best friends from high school reached out to me to let me know that one of our high school friends passed away. For the most part, this is the first person that I was close with in high school that has passed away. I don’t know all of the details of her passing, and I wouldn’t share them here, if I did. However, one thing that I know is that she was hurting. It wasn’t always clear from what she posted on Facebook, but there were indications that things were not as they seemed. She was always good about putting on a smile. In fact, that was the one thing that I always remember about her from high school – her sweet smile. Sadly, I hadn’t been in contact with her for quite some time, mostly because of some misunderstanding or disagreement during my senior year of high school. I can’t exactly remember what happened, but I do know that my contact with her recently was just through her posts on Facebook – pictures of her sons and her occasional selfies. The smile was still there – but I don’t know how real it was.
I have learned through the years to listen very carefully to the Holy Spirit. Most nights, my hound wakes me up to go run around the yard. Some nights, I have trouble going back to sleep and at times, faces from my past come to mind. There are even nights when I will have dreams of old boyfriends or friends that I haven’t seen in at least twenty years. Most of the time, I pray for the people that come to mind either through dreams or when their faces appear before me. Prayer is one of the best ways that I can help someone, but after the news I received this week, maybe I need to do more. I don’t know what that looks like, but I know that I have something that so many people need: Jesus.
It’s always interesting to me when I receive friend requests from friends from high school. That’s because most of them know that I was a fairly strong Christian back then. Every week, my mom would pick up a group of my friends and take them to youth group. My friend that passed this weekend was one of those friends. Since we lost contact, I don’t know whether or not she had any relationship with God. I don’t know if she went to church. I don’t know if she knew that Jesus was just a prayer away. I do know that I could have reached out to her.
One of the most difficult things for me as a Christian is to minister to my friends and family. Through Facebook, I am connected to over five hundred people – family members, friends from my past, church people, former students, colleagues. I know that not all of them know Jesus. I know that some of them are struggling. Like I said at the beginning, I don’t know how people live in this world without knowing Jesus. I believe that the only way that I have made it through many of the struggles of my own life is because I know that Jesus loves me. I know that he comforts me. I know that he guides me. I know that he protects me.
Today, I am challenged to be a better witness of the love of Jesus. Yesterday, my pastor shared that when he was first starting in ministry that he didn’t know what he was doing. He came across a book that helped him to see that the best prayer in this time of his life was to ask God to create in him the ability to be a youth pastor. He encouraged us yesterday to pray these types of prayers. So, today I am asking God to create in me a witness of Jesus Christ. To help me to minister to my friends and family members – those who know Jesus and those who don’t. If you are a follower of Jesus, I encourage you to do the same. Pray that God will help you to minister to those you love.