I can remember it as if it were yesterday. Over 14 years ago while driving on the highway in Phoenix, Arizona I was listening to one of our local radio stations playing Christmas music. When they broke for a commercial I heard a voice. Keep in mind this was no ordinary voice. As I was listening I heard a woman talk about the need for new toy donations to benefit a local shelter that helped children and their mothers escape abusive relationships. It was then that I heard: “What if that were me?” So as I continued on my horse, I mean, in my car, I began to think about what I had heard and put myself in their shoes. I was pushed to take a good hard look at something most do not want to see, hear, feel or think about especially at Christmas, when it’s supposed to be all about jingle bells and presents under the tree. But I had no choice. That voice grabbed my attention, and I couldn’t shake it off even if I tried. So the question crossed my mind once again, “What if that were me? Would I want someone to be there for me?” And my immediate response without hesitation was, “YES!”
From that moment on something very supernatural came over me. I knew that I was approaching a local Walmart at the Guadalupe exit in Mesa and there was no question about it, I was going to have to stop. As I entered the store I grabbed a cart and made my way down the isles. First stop: Clothes. I figured if these children and their mothers were in a shelter, they would need some new clothes. Then I made my way to the toy isles. As I pushed my basket seeing all the shelves packed with toys I began to weep. I mean, I was nearly sobbing. But they were not tears of sadness or guilt. No. They were tears of immense joy! I had never in my life experienced anything like it. It was supernatural. As I finished shopping I made my way to the cashier to check out. While standing there, I began to ask myself, “What is this joy I’m feeling?” Less than two years later I received my answer. But before I share with you what it is, I must tell you about my husbands very own “Damascus” experience first:
After having a very successful business for fourteen years while living in Arizona, God called us back into ministry and led our family back to our hometown in Michigan. One day as my husband was in the living room he too heard a voice: It was Jesus. As he sat there the Lord said to him, “Open your Bible to Mathew 25”. When he did there were no pen or highlight markings anywhere in this chapter. And having been a pastor and Bible teacher, those pages were quite worn. But not this chapter. It was as if it didn’t even exist. As he opened it Jesus led him to read verses 31-46:
“But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
“Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
“Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
“And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
“And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”
Allow me to stop here for a moment: When Jesus showed my husband these verses, the Lord emphasized a very important part, “I tell YOU the truth, when you REFUSED to help the least of these…YOU REFUSED to help ME.” Mathew 25:46.
This would be a “life changing” experience, not only for my husband, but for our entire family. We then began to help anyone we could. This included single mothers and their children (the fatherless). As my husband began to dissect the scriptures from cover to cover he found many verses and commands from God instructing his people to show love and compassion toward the poor. He also saw a connection to the words of Jesus in Mathew 25. It was not long after that I received my answer, “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:9-13
Those tears of Joy that day were produced because of Love. Not just a love for my family or people I knew. But it was a heavenly joy as a result of demonstrating love and compassion toward the “fatherless” and the “stranger”.
I sincerely pray that you experience your own “Road to Damascus”. Just as Jesus says in John 15, the only “fruit” that proves to him that we are his true disciples is we will keep his commandment to love our neighbor. And yes, this also means the stranger, someone you do not know just like in the story of the Good Samaritan, “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked. The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy. Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.” Luke 10:36-37.
More study, read James 1:27, James chapter 2, 1John 3 and Acts 4:32-37