I have a thought for two people today, and they both need to do the same thing – they need to reach out to the community. I’ll bet you know which one you are by the time you get to the end of this article. Or will you???
First I want to draw you a picture. Picture a small room. It’s not a nice room, and in fact it is dirty, dingy, and only lit by a dirty naked light bulb hanging from the ceiling. There is a small sink full of dirty dishes, a hot plate with an open can of some nondescript food sitting beside it. The old refrigerator in the corner really serves no purpose, because it is empty of any decent food. There is one dirty window in the corner which faces a brick wall, but it is so dim it is hard to determine if it is truly night or day. On the opposite wall there is a small bed with a lumpy mattress, and a dirty sheet with a blanket half on, half off the bed. On a small plastic table beside the bed there is an old black telephone. There is a person lying on the bed. Motionless. Their eyes are open but not really seeing anything except the darkness of their own despair and loneliness. All of a sudden the silence is jarred as the phone rings loudly, causing the person on the bed to jump in alarm. But then a small glimpse of hope darts across their face as they jump to answer – just as it stops ringing. They pick it up anyway, but there is only the lonely sound of an empty dial tone. They hang up, and the silence returns. They sink back down onto the bed, and the sobs start to come, with no end in sight.
Step back in your mind and look closely at the person. Look closely at their face. With a jolt to your soul you realize the dirty unkempt face you see – is yours. It is you sobbing on the bed feeling the loneliness, this despair, disappointment, helplessness and hopelessness. It is you who is racked in sobs that just won’t seem to stop. Please God – please help me you cry!
And then God answers. One day they look up to see someone reaching a hand down into that pit that is their life, and grasp theirs with a strong and comforting grip. They may only have enough strength to give one small squeeze to the one offering it, but it lights something in their heart that allows a glimpse of hope, a possible change in their direction. The sobbing stops – just for the moment at least.
I hope you can feel even one small bit of the emotion this imagery is intended to create. I also hope you realize that this is not just a lesson in creative writing, it is so very real in some people’s lives as they deal with situations or decisions that have caused them to end up in some pretty terrible situations. They have fallen into a pit that they just cannot see a way out of – until someone reaches out to them. That is how redemption occurs. If no one ever reaches out to them, it never happens. Thank God someone did that for me. Now imagine it is you who have reached down and offered a hand you know only you can offer. Now picture the smile on God’s face as he considers what you have done on his behalf.
There are two people in this story. There is one person who needed to be reached out to, and one person who was willing to reach. They are both a part of what we call community, and are good examples of how God has designed His world to support itself if we will only submit to his desire for us to do it. This illustration may appear extreme, but it is so very real. Every situation is not that bad, but there are so many who need to be reached out to, and so many who could reach if they will take but one small step. What is critically important to remember is that YOU could be either person at different stages of your life.
Whichever one of these is you today, I hope you will reach out. Whether up or down, please reach out.