Several years ago while driving in Asia with several brothers in the Lord, I noticed a man lying motionless in the ditch on the side of the road. I thought he was dead.
As we drove by, the driver of the car said, “That man has been lying there for six days now.”
“What?” I exclaimed. “Tell me what happened.”
“He’s an old beggar and has been living on the streets. Six nights ago, he was hit by a car and must have broken his leg. No one wants to pick him up or even touch him. But an old lady comes every day and gives him some rice and a drink of water.”
“If Jesus were to go by this place, what would He do?” I asked.
When we arrived at our destination, I suggested we go to the police and ask for the appropriate permission to pick up the old man and take him to the hospital. It was granted, and some of our brothers went to get him.
The old man’s hair looked as though it had never been washed, combed or even cut. He had probably not washed his body in years. The rags he was wearing were black with grime. Thousands of ants were eating away at his flesh. Since he had not been able to move for six days, he had lain there in his own filth.
As he got better under the care of doctors and nurses, I went to the hospital several times to visit and pray with him. His name was Kuttappan. He was 75, and for as long as he could remember he had lived on the streets. They were his home.
As he had lain unmoving on the street, only a handful of rice and a glass of water from an old woman kept him alive.
There are many things in this life that we as individuals might consider “essential” for living (electricity, clothing, a phone, a vehicle)—I encourage you to take some time to think about this. Even if these things feel essential, in reality, we could still survive if were suddenly forced to live without them, like Kuttappan did. But do you find anything in life that carries greater value than the most basic of essentials—something of higher priority than even simple food and a glass of water?
A Heart for What is Eternal
You may be familiar with the story of the woman at the well to whom Jesus spoke about living water. The disciples had gone into the city to buy food, and when they returned they offered it to Him.
But [Jesus] said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”
Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”
“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. (John 4:32–34, niv)
Jesus was seizing on an everyday event—eating—to illustrate to His disciples a principle of a different kingdom. Jesus was saying something like this:
“You’re horizontally oriented, thinking about the here-and-now—your tired and dusty feet, your growling stomachs, your parched throats. But pull your attention away for a minute. Lift up your eyes! Look into eternity and see what I see—look right now to the souls of men and women around you. Time is running out, and there is still work to be done in the small window of time we have left.
“Yes, I’m hungry, I’m thirsty. But the crisis out there is so real that it consumes all My being. Compared to what is happening, I no longer have an appetite. I am desperate to finish what My Father has given Me to do.”
Jesus could have used any number of examples to explain kingdom principles. Why did He use food?
Perhaps because it is one of the most tangible, common points of connection for us—food and water are legitimate needs that we come face to face with every day. We can’t live very long without them! Yet to Jesus, even the most basic of essentials—bread and water—were secondary concerns when He knew people were dying without His Father’s love.
Jesus calls us, too, to see what He sees, to feel the urgency He feels, to share His heart for people who still do not know Him.
Our Response to His Call
We are called to fulfill different tasks in the Lord’s kingdom. Our responses to His call, therefore, will be as individual as we are. Some may hear the call to full-time ministry, whether locally or abroad. Others may sense the Lord directing them to pray for and send others. Some may make small changes in their lifestyles; others may undergo a radical, upside-down change of the heart.
Remember, millions of souls from every nation, tribe, people and language are still waiting to find out how they can come before the throne of God. We must keep that vision of eternity before us and live our lives accordingly.
Jesus died for us that we may live. If we choose, we can lift our eyes and live for others that they, too, may hear that He died for them.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon