Tag Archives: Watchman Nee

Love is All You Need

Watchmen Nee wrote that his mentor, Margaret Barber, cared more about life than work. She focused on loving the people God brought her way rather than the work she needed to get done.

What a beautiful focus.This is my desire as well, but too often loving people gets lost behind the pressure to get things done.

A few months ago, I needed to get the name of diabetic test strips which would be covered under our new insurance plan. My pharmacy told me to call my doctor. My doctor told me to call my insurance company. My insurance company referred me to a third party, which handled pharmacy issues.

After navigating a labyrinth of computer generated voices, I finally spoke to a person. His name was John. His voice was slow and shaky. I had the call on speaker and my wife and I could tell John was elderly, probably in his seventies.

John didn’t know the answer to my question and suggested I call my pharmacy. When I told I had,  he suggested I call my insurance company. I tried to calmly explain that my insurance company was who told me to call him.

By this point, I had no compassion for John. I really just wanted to mark this nagging to-do off my list. I didn’t care what John might have been going through.  I’d lost sight of any opportunity to love him.

John put me on hold so he could try and get an answer. While we waited, my wife helped me see the situation differently. She could tell he was having a difficult time.  She felt bad for him.

When John got back on the line, he had an answer. As he explained it, my wife made a signal for me to pray with him. This wasn’t on my radar, but when he was done, I said, “John, is there anything I could pray for you about?”

“Yes,” John answered quickly. Then a silence.

“What can I pray for you about?” I repeated.

“My salvation,” John cried out.

Wow.

I prayed with John right there on the phone, though I’m sure the call was monitored. I prayed he would recognize God’s tremendous love for him. I let him know God was willing to allow His Son, Jesus, to die in his place to rescue him and to give him eternal life.

When I finished and said goodbye, we could hear what seemed to be sobs from John before we hung up.

What a wonderful interaction. But I almost  missed it. I was so focused on getting things done, loving John had dropped from consideration. I’d lost sight of the most important thing.

Jesus, on the night before his crucifixion, gave his disciples a single great command. He told them that as they followed this one thing, they would stay connected to his love and their joy would be made complete.[1]

“This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” John 15:12

Earlier in the evening, in John 13, he’d washed their stinky, dirty feet. The next day, he would endure a cruel death on a cross to save them.

This is how he’d loved them. This is how he’s loved us.

His one charge to them, and to us, is to love others in the same sacrificial way he has loved us.

It’s not the work. It’s the people. The things we do are not an end but a means to bring us to the people God wants us to love.

As we yield to God’s Indwelling Spirit, he will accomplish the work he wants done through us. The work will get done as we focus on loving people.

Our job is to love first. It’s really all we need. Maybe the Beatles had it right after all. (8^>

Prayer: Most gracious, heavenly Father. I’m sorry I so easily get caught up in the swirl of duties that love becomes secondary. I see you all around me in your creation and in the people you bring my way. Please help me trust you that the work will get done. I’m asking you to change the paradigm of my day to care less about accomplishments and more about loving every person you bring my way.

 

[1] John 15:9-12

Choosing Life Over Work

Of his mentor, missionary to China Margaret Barber, Watchmen Nee wrote, “She cared for nothing but life… [and to pay] more attention to life than work.”[1]

 I long for this mindset, but too often the opposite is true. Consider what occurred only a few days ago.

On my to-do list was to get the name of diabetic test strips which would be covered under our new health insurance plan. My pharmacy told me to call my provider. My provider told me to call my insurance company. My insurance company referred me to a third party which handled pharmacy issues.

After several tries, I finally found myself talking to a person. His name was John. His voice was slow and shaky. I had the phone on speaker and my wife and I could both tell he was elderly, probably in his 70s.

John didn’t seem to know the answer to my question and suggested I call my pharmacy. When I told him I'd tried that, he told me to call my insurance company. I told him my insurance company had referred me to him. I tried to keep my voice from sounding as frustrated as I was feeling. This "to-do" was taking much longer than I'd hoped.

That's the sad thing. At that moment I wasn't thinking about John at all, other than the fact that he was blocking  me from marking this nagging duty off my list.

When John realized I wasn't going to go away, he  put me on hold.

"I bet people laugh at the way he talks all the time," my wife offered, feeling compassion for him. This unsolicited comment began to shift my heart and my thoughts moved slightly towards John. I emphasize slightly, because my goal was still resolution, not encouragement. I hate to admit this, but it's true.

When John got back on the line, he had an answer for me. In fact, he seemed empowered now that he had information.

During our exchange, my wife caught my eye and mouthed, "Pray for him."

Not yet being fully focused on John, this hadn't even occurred to me and I was a bit reluctant. However, when  John was done giving me my answer, I asked, “Is there anything I can pray for you about?”

"Yes," John said without hesitation.

“What can I pray for you about,” I repeated.

“My salvation,” John cried out.

Wow. I wasn't expecting that at all, but it thrilled me that he would be so honest.

I went on to pray that John would recognize God's loves for him, that he would accept Christ's willingness to die on a cross for his sins.  I prayed that John would believe by faith the fact that Jesus' death was out of love for him and that by receiving Christ's finished work, it would secured the salvation of his soul.

John listened and when I was done we ended our call with the normal protocols. But before we hang up, we could hear John gasp loudly and sob softly. What if he really did surrender his life to Christ? We pray that he did.

When we value life over work, this changes everything.

I recently heard of a man who was an elder serving on a particular church committee for 45 years. He said the experience was totally empty, but that he considered it his duty to God. He said his life was a series of dutiful activities hoping to please God.

But two years ago he finally understood grace. Though he'd heard the word for years, the amazing truth of God's unmerited favor passed from head knowledge to his heart.

Since then, his life has been totally different.  Now, when he wakes up in the morning, he doesn't think about all he has to do. Two simple thoughts have replaced his thoughts of work:

  • Oh, how he loves me
  • I wonder who he will bring into my life today to love through me?

Prayer: Most gracious, heavenly Father. I’m sorry I so easily get caught up in the swirl of duties and work that life becomes secondary. You are life. I see you all around me in your creation and in the people you bring my way. Please help me trust you that the work you want to accomplish will get done. I’m asking you to change the paradigm of my day to care less about accomplishments and more about people, to pay more attention to life than work.

Thank you for loving me so much.  Please work this unsearchable truth more and more into the fabric of my heart.

Who do you want to bring into my life today so that you can love them through me?

1 Peter 3:15 (NASB)  but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;

[1] Watchman Nee, Witness Lee

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