I attended a funeral recently for my close friend Debi’s dad. Few people look forward to attending funerals. The sadness, the loss, the reality that they can no longer be with their loved one.
This funeral, however, was filled with moments of ordinary holiness. I witnessed, through the pictures, the presentation, and the words of those left behind, a man who loved his friends, his community, his family, and his God. A man who knew how to hear a heart drop. And not just hear it, but respond.
Mr. H’s funeral was an inspiration to me. I came home determining that, if I ever do grow up, I want to be just like him. The medals and honors (from military service, Kiwanis, and community), the gleam in his eye for his wife of six decades, the commitment to raise his kids in the way God instructs, the doting he did on his grandkids and great-granddaughter. The entire service spoke volumes of his simple, servant’s heart. But what hit me the most was that he did so much secretly. I wouldn’t call him a “quiet” man, for he always had a joke or witty comment whenever I greeted him.
But he gave quietly.
One by one, stories emerged of the times he, unselfishly and without recognition, gave. Sometimes it was shoveling a neighbor’s driveway without being asked. Or taking them hot baked muffins. Another time it was quietly paying a church’s tax bill of $1,000 — a church he didn’t even attend. Yet another story of the time when, each week for an entire year, he tucked a $100 bill into a struggling family’s mailbox, expecting no repayment except for the joy of knowing he was giving because God told him to.
Mr. H also was probably the most loyal husband I knew. He stayed hopelessly and visibly in love with his dear wife of sixty-two years, caring for her quietly and lovingly through more than fifty of those years when her medical condition required countless hospital trips and stays, caring for his children alone during those times, and then administering home care for her in her later years, often around the clock.
He never complained. He counted it a sincere joy to serve his sweet wife.
As I sat there weeping, I was struck by the holy moments this man created in the seemingly mundane days of his life.
So often we want thrill, excitement, recognition, purpose. Mr. H found purpose quietly serving the person standing in front of him. With an audience of only One.
Now he is with that One forever, no doubt hearing the words of Jesus,
Well done, thou good and faithful servant… enter thou into the joy of thy Lord. — Matthew 25:21 KJV
Yes, through the nearly quarter century that I knew my friend’s father, whenever I looked at him, I sort of saw him.
But mostly, I saw Jesus.
Oh, that we all would learn to live and leave such a legacy!
The Two Reasons We Are on Earth
When I first became a Christian as a teenager, my spiritual mother told me that we are on Earth for only two reasons. The first is to have a relationship with God, our loving Creator, who offers us a place in heaven. The second is to take every opportunity we can to point others to Jesus so they can spend eternity in Heaven too.
Because really — even though I know it sounds cliché — we can’t take anything with us when we die. Why do we spend so much time trying to amass wealth in order to purchase houses or cars or pretty clothes when we will leave all those things behind? As the song my boot-wearing, countrified son was listening to in the car the other day says: “I’ve never seen a hearse with a trailer hitch.”
In other words,
we don’t do good for the sake of looking good; we do good in order to point others to Jesus.
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven. — Matthew 5:14-16
Don’t do good works in order to selfishly shout, “Look at me!” Do them in order to humbly implore, “Will you look at Him?”
Are you ready to fight against our selfie-obsessed culture? To stop putting self first and instead think about others? To live alert, and tune your ears to hear a heart drop?
I have come to believe this upside-down truth:
If you want to find your life, first you need to lose it. In order to bring joy to yourself, first you need to be more concerned with bringing joy to others. If you want to feel significant, you need to embrace obscurity and instead make others feel significant.
Only when we love and share and serve, as Scripture commands us, can we live life on purpose, embracing the reason God brought us to Earth in the first place. As we reach out not only to friends and family but to strangers, the lonely, and the less-than-lovely, we will learn to mirror Christ and to let His light shine so that He gets all the glory.
Father, tune my ears to the heart drops all around me. I want to begin to live alert — to be ever on the lookout for where I might serve You by loving and serving others. Give me eyes to see the needy, ears to hear the hurting, a smile to encourage the weary, and hands ready to help those who need it. I want to be sensitive to the times You gently tap me on the heart, urging me to put love in action. May I willingly share my home, my food, my resources, and my time with whomever you send my way. When people look at me, may they instead see only You. Thank You in advance for the joy that comes from serving. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Tips for Living Alert
Becoming a person who hears — and responds to — a heart drop takes a little forethought and organization. Here are some ideas to help you become attentive and responsive to the spoken and unspoken emotional and physical needs of those around you.
- Pray each day. Ask God to tune your ears, focus your eyes, and soften your heart to the needs of those around you. Make this your prayer before your feet even hit the floor in the morning and your first cup of coffee splashes in your mug.
- Take notes: mental ones and sticky ones. You can do this by keeping a small notebook in your purse or utilizing the notes app on your phone. Sticky notes on your bulletin board also work well. (I love sticky notes! With the amount I buy, I should have purchased stock in the sticky notes industry!) When you hear someone mention a like or an interest, jot it down. Does your friend adore coconut? Record it. Did she mention when her birthday was? Write that down too. Did your boss tell a funny story about his favorite childhood toy or your neighbor mention which sports team she roots for? Log this info as well. Did you recently attend a funeral? Check the obituary or memorial card for the deceased’s birthday and make note of it. Plan to do something for their loved ones when this day rolls around.
- Pay attention to special dates. Did your neighbor mention that he is having surgery next Tuesday? Did a teen at church talk about basketball tryouts being next week? Did a friend tell you she is expecting to hear about an offer on a new house by Monday morning? Set an alarm on your phone or record these events in your calendar. Pray for their situations, but also make an effort to get back with these people to ask them what the results were. It will mean so much to them that you remembered and followed up with them!
- Start stalking. Check out their Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram accounts. Often here you can see patterns. You will discover the likes — and even sometimes obsessions — of your friends, family, and coworkers. From their online interactions you will get ideas for ways to encourage and surprise them as well.
- Be a smart shopper. Stock an arsenal of affection, stock-piling items that will be useful as you share love with others. Be on the lookout not only for the items you have recorded from listening but also generic items such as note cards, scented candles, lotions, simple pieces of jewelry, journals, pretty pens, or fancy chocolates — all items that you can present as a simple “I was thinking of you” gift on a random day.
Excerpted with permission from Listen Love Repeat by Karen Ehman, copyright Karen Ehman.
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Loving others doesn’t have to be challenging! God gave us this amazing gift by creating us in His image — the image of Love. Let’s share the love of Jesus with those around us today by quietly giving. Come share your thoughts with us on our blog. We would love to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily