Would you say that you are a private person?
Do you prefer to have regular intervals of time for yourself?
Would you be willing for The LORD to interrupt your “alone time” for the sake of someone He brings you?
Making room and time for that unexpected person?
Even without the year-long pandemic we have endured, some of us have an inborn tendency to avoid contact with others.
It is understandable on many levels. But how does it line up with “the Great Commission” and our obligation to stay open to people?
In answer to these issues, let’s consider an occasion when Jesus encountered that unexpected person.
Try a Little Tenderness
Recently, Cindi and I had the joy of an extended visit from our daughter’s entire family — with the added benefit of time with our grandchildren, whom she and her husband so graciously share with us.
One afternoon, I happened to overhear a heart-to-heart conversation going on in our living room. Our daughter was encouraging her oldest daughter to always make sure that when she encountered people, she treated them kindly.
“You never know what that person has been through. They may have been really hurt by what they have experienced in life — and they need you to be kind and compassionate toward them.”
Upon hearing this, my heart swelled with fatherly pride, knowing that our kind-hearted daughter not only “talks the talk,” but she also “walks the walk.”
What was she recommending? Tenderness and kindness to that unexpected person.
In the Galilee and Beyond
The mother/ daughter conversation I overheard fit in with some thoughts I’ve had about an incident in the life of Jesus that deserves our attention. Let me set it up for you.
At the end of Mark 6, we read this summary in verse 56 of an extensive time of ministry by Jesus in the regions around the Sea of Galilee: “And as many as touched Him were made well.”
The miraculous ministry of Jesus was already well known in that area and beyond, as verse 24 of Matthew 4 attests: “His fame went throughout all Syria.”
Word of Jesus’ miracles in the towns around the Galilee eventually got back to the scribes and Pharisees in Jerusalem.
So, as stated at the beginning of Mark 7, they decided to travel 80 miles north to see for themselves and make an assessment of this Man and His ministry.
The Need for Alone Time
Possibly, the scribes and Pharisees began their trip with good intentions. Maybe they even wondered if they might be about to meet the promised Messiah.
But by the time they encountered Jesus, they had only one burning question for Him: “Why don’t your disciples wash their hands before they eat?” As Mark 7:2 says, “They found fault.” How shallow!
Jesus promptly upbraided them for their superficiality and hypocrisy, and then He used the occasion as a teaching moment for His disciples.
But by the time He had finished with this episode of His life, He was looking for some alone time.
Mark 7:24 says, “From there He arose and went to the region [around 50 miles away] of Tyre and Sidon. And He entered a house and wanted no one to know it.” Jesus needed some time to Himself.
But that didn’t work out as He had hoped Why? Because of that unexpected person.
The Full Story
Many sermons have been preached about what happened next — Jesus’ encounter with the Syrophoenician woman who begged for her daughter to be set free from demonic torment.
Rather than expanding it, I will simply summarize it in a string of short sentences.
The woman comes to Jesus. Jesus doesn’t answer her at first. The disciples beg Jesus, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.” Jesus refuses, telling them that He has only been sent for the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
The woman barges in, falls down in worship before Jesus, and cries out, “Lord, help me!” Jesus tells her, “It isn’t right to throw the children’s bread to the dogs.”
She tells Jesus that all she needs is just a little crumb. Jesus is amazed at her faith and declares that the woman’s daughter is free as of that very moment.
Many questions could be asked regarding this encounter and how Jesus responded. One point is clear: after His contact with the Jewish officials, Jesus was weary of interacting with people.
He wanted some time alone. But then came that unexpected person.
Do you need some help in responding in love to the people God places in your path?
Derek Prince makes a comment about this type of response in his booklet, “Orphans, Widows, the Poor and Oppressed.”
Along with the booklet, which is a free dowqnload, we also offer Derek’s original audio message by this title. (For some reason, the audio message does not include this quote. Derek must have added it when the booklet was produced.)
“Let me say this to you: the key to happiness is not being loved; it is having someone to love. That is what makes life exciting.
There are people not very far from you who need your love. They may not be very lovable people. In fact, they may be a little bit bitter, a little bit angry, a little bit against God, saying, “He hasn’t treated me right. Why am I in this situation?”
But I want to tell you, if you really want to be happy, find somebody to love. It will make all the difference in your life. It is wonderful to be loved. I am loved by many people, though I don’t deserve it.
But what really brings joy to my heart is to love somebody who is not loved, and to see the smile on their face when they say, “At last, I’ve got a friend.””
Willing to Be Interrupted
Two truths from this story encourage me. One is that The LORD Himself wanted to be alone at times.
Second, He was moved by His heart of compassion to allow for genuine opportunities for selfless ministry. I want that in my life.
Wouldn’t it be good right now for you and me to tell The LORD we would be willing to open our arms and our time to that unexpected person? Let’s do it.
LORD Jesus, it encourages me to see that You had the same kind of need for alone time that I feel.
But You have showed us in Your Word how we can open our hearts and our lives in compassion to the hurting people around us.
LORD, we need the grace to respond with the kindness that is so needed by the people we encounter in life.
Help us not to shut them out. Help us to find a way to touch them as You did.
LORD Jesus, I commit myself now to allow You to override and interrupt my “alone time.” By Your Grace, I will look for and open my arms to the unexpected persons You will bring my way. Amen.
Miracles of Love
Are you ready to see The LORD work miracles in response to the prayer you and I have just offered?
I truly believe they will happen, even in the case of people we would consider the most unlikely to respond. Won’t it be exciting to see?
If we can help in any way to strengthen your resolve in this area, it would be our privilege to do so.
One good first step may be for you to download the booklet and the audio message we mentioned earlier: “Orphans, Widows, the Poor and Oppressed.” It is our joy to provide these helps in thanks for your love, your prayers, and your generosity to us.
Touching Those Who Are Hurting
I guess I am and have always been an evangelist at heart. Strangely enough, I am also a person who doesn’t necessarily like to have my alone time interrupted.
You and I have just prayed a prayer in which we have forfeited that right whenever The LORD decides to override it. That’s okay — because the number of needy people around us is great.
What will it cost us?
Just one word of tenderness. Just one random act of kindness. Just an extra dollar in the tip jar. Just one authentic word of encouragement to someone who is downtrodden.
A moment of stepping away from our solitude. A few minutes of interruption to our carefully planned schedule.
A needed conversation with someone who is desperately lonely.
And for what reason? Simply one — for that unexpected person.
All the best,
P.S. Once again, we send you our love and thanks for your partnership with us. We deeply appreciate your prayers and your gifts. Please don’t forget to download week one of “How to Be Led by the Holy Spirit.” We know it will encourage you.
Materials used by kind permission of Derek Prince Ministries.