Several years ago while on a mission’s trip in Vancouver, Canada our van driver, who was a member of our team, decided to take a group of us to the seedy part of town where the prostitutes and drug addicts were located. As we drove through the area we noticed a man standing on the sidewalk near the road who was in the midst of a drug-induced fit. Our driver pulled to the curb, stopped the van, and we all watched the man silently.
I had never witnessed anything like it in my life. I wanted to turn away, but I couldn’t peel my eyes from the horror. As I watched I was filled with compassion, and tears flowed down my cheeks. I felt compelled to get out of the van to help him, but I was immobilized by fear and doubt. I had no idea what to do to help. No one else indicated any pull to get out and help, so we just sat and stared for a bit then drove away.
I was still crying when we returned to our hotel room, and I continued to cry for several days after. I still cry today whenever I think about the experience. We had so much life to give, but we offered nothing. Instead, we hoarded it to ourselves. The man probably never knew we were there. I wonder when he last experienced genuine love from another.
It’s what we do. Many of us who have been made aware of and enjoy His presence and love on a daily basis just stare out at the world without offering any hope. Some of us think hurling our opinions will make a difference, but our opinions change nothing; they just feed the riot. He has freely filled us with life-giving water that heals, nourishes, and refreshes, but we stop the river from flowing. Instead, we allow the chaos around us to turn us into bitter cisterns. And I think it makes God cry. I think He wants us to stop staring and start loving.