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Who’s at your gate?

“There was a rich man who … lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar…” ~Luke 16:19-20

Jesus began this parable and taught the religious leaders about wealth, compassion and charity. Luke 16:19-31  records that the rich man ignored the beggar at his gate, then died and went to hell. The poor man died and went to heaven.

Eternally separated from God and his wealth, the rich man realized that his earthly treasure wasn’t so valuable after all. He felt the pain of loneliness, poverty and despair. Understanding the consequences of his decisions and seeing his family make the same mistakes, he begged for a chance to warn his brothers, but it was too late. The selfish, arrogant attitude he had on earth sealed his doom.

I have to confess that I used to read this passage and mentally chide the rich man. I mean, seriously, who on earth could walk past a beggar right outside of their house? What kind of egotistical, inconsiderate, cad DOES that? I’d pat myself on the back, assured that I would never do such a thing.

Or would I?

As with every lesson Jesus taught, deeper meanings lay beneath the surface. No, I wouldn’t likely walk past a beggar outside of my house, but I might…

Give a passing wave to a friend as I rush to finish my errands.

Stop for a quick chat, but keep the conversation superficial.

Let the phone ring until voice mail picks up the call.

There are lots of opportunities to help the people God puts at my “gate.” I know several folks who are lonely and need someone to talk with. Others are struggling and might need to vent their frustration to a safe person. Some may need a friend to show a little interest in what’s happening in their lives. So while I don’t step over beggars at my gate, I’m sometimes guilty of side-stepping certain situations and people in my life.

God is opening my eyes to some changes I need to make, and one of them is to be willing to make more time for others. I personally think this is what Jesus meant by “laying down our lives for our friends” (John 15:13). MY life consists of chores and errands and tasks, and I lay down my life when I make time to spend with someone who has a need.

Steve and I are also praying about new ways to serve and give. Now that our kids have left home and their activities are no longer the center of our attention, we have to look for opportunities to serve in our community. We want to focus on the things that have eternal value and be sensitive to the needs around us.

Especially the needs at our gate.

What about you? Is the Holy Spirit bringing to mind any people at your gate?

45 Comments

  1. This is a great question. And a challenging one. I, too, can be quite guilty of superficial conversation, especially when I’m on the run or have a to-do list that will take longer than the time in my day. I have to make a conscious decision to stop and take the time to focus on someone else and their needs. Especially my own children. How many times do busy moms and dads tell their kids, “Later. I’m busy right now,” only to forget they’ve overlooked the child’s need? Crazy, right? I love that God whispers to my heart and says, “Stop. This will only take a moment and will shower your child with love.” Thanks for your wonderful post!

    • Susan

      Thanks so much, Alycia. It makes me sad when I think about how many times I didn’t pay close enough attention to my kids because I was distracted. Your comment reminded me of the old song, “Cat’s in the Cradle.”
      Hope your day is filled with God-appointments!

  2. Thanks for starting my day with a big BANG!…in a GREAT WAY!!!
    The opportunities to serve are endless.
    The opportunities are waiting for our response.
    The opportunities COULD BE the HOLY SPIRIT!
    Thanks, Susan for the “dinner bell” reminder!
    xoxox

    • Susan

      Thanks for commenting, TK! You inspire me with the way you and Ron help Dot. That’s one of the things I’m working on. And we have a really good opportunity at Bethany Hall, don’t we? Can’t wait to see what else opens up with those gals!

  3. Terrific truth here, Susan. When we don’t allow ourselves to be truly “interrupted” with people because they may look fine on the outside, we miss those opportunities to serve. If we invested in the relationship, we’d see their needs, needs our Saviour can meet. Needs our Saviour calls us to serve. Thanks for challenging me this morning!

    • Susan

      I’m constantly amazed at the people in my path whose biggest need is to be noticed. You’re right – they look fine on the outside, but they’re lonely and need somebody to see them.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Jeanette!

  4. Susan, this was a great post! I want to publicly thank you for taking the time to stop, pray and encourage me even at the times when I’m sure you’re swamped with other tasks you could be doing. At times I feel as though I’m airing dirty laundry, but you’re right-sometimes you need a safe person in which to confide. Thank you. Love you precious friend!

    • Susan

      Sweet Jamie, I want to always make time for you. And don’t ever worry about airing dirty laundry with me because uou know I keep you in my prayers. It’s a privilege to be your friend.
      Love and hugs from VA :)

      • With the way I’m feeling right now, that comment made me cry. Thank you so much for your sweet and encouraging words. They mean more than you know. Love you precious friend!

  5. Thank you for a powerful reminder, Susan…

    • Susan

      Thanks for stopping by, Vonda. And thanks for taking time for THIS person at your gate :)

  6. Oh my goodness….NEW FAVORITE POST! And what a thoughtful question….who IS at my gate? Thanks for giving me something to mull over today…

    • Susan

      Are you kidding me? You’re the QUEEN of gate keepers! I see it in every chapter I read. Nobody EVER took better care of a child. Love you :)

  7. You raise powerful questions. Thanks for challenging me to be more like Christ.

    • Susan

      Thank YOU, Jodi Love what you share at Sacred Routine and can’t wait for the redesigned site!

  8. The other day as I stood waiting for my husband outside of Walmart, a woman who I have seen around town approached me & started talking. This woman has a very flat affect & lacks appropriate social skills. I wanted to inch away; I wanted Bill to arrive quickly to save me. But then the Holy Spirit whispered, “This might be the face of Jesus greeting you today.”. So I smiled, sincerely, and chatted. Your wonderful post reminds me to do this more often. Thank you!

    • Susan

      Wow, Julia – what a powerful God-incidence, and good for you for hearing His voice and obeying! I love “This might be the face of Jesus greeting you today.” So true, and on the flip-side – you might have been the face of Jesus to HER that day. Awesome! Thanks so much for passing that along!

  9. Oh Susan, Talk about conviction! Well written sister and thank you for opening up this passage to bring relevance to us today. ;)

    Love to you, Hester

    • Susan

      Thanks so much, Hester. This lesson did a number on me, so I’m glad I could pass along the conviction ;)
      Love and hugs from VA!

  10. I wish I’d put on my steel-toed shoes before reading this post. :) Seriously, those are the last things I need. Thank you for exposing me to some much needed conviction. It’s a healthy, God-glorifying OUCH.

    • Susan

      I know, I know. The more I got into this lesson, the more it hurt. In a God-glorifying way, of course!
      So happy I could spread the conviction ;)

  11. Judy Rossbacher

    Susan, since I spend a lot of time in coffee shops reading and writing, i often find opportunities to meet new people…. Sometimes I take the opportunity; other times I don’t.
    Thank you for reminding me to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. It is hard for me to stand and talk with people; but, I can sit and talk with people.

    • Susan

      Thanks for the comment, Judy! I enjoy chatting with you, and I appreciate your sensitivity to the people around you. Look forward to seeing you again soon!

  12. Thank you for the reminder to be watching… Who does Christ have for me to minister today?

    • Susan

      Thank you for stopping by, Natasha. The Lord has great plans for us today!

  13. it’s so easy to treat people like inconveniences instead of people to love and serve. great reminder.

  14. Doc and I had this very conversation this week. Don’t you love it when God speaks the same message to anoher?

    Speaking to those “at the gate” is what we were calling “walking in the spirit”. Either way you are placing your focus on others and not yourself.

    Great Blog!

    • Susan

      Thanks, Diane, and YES – I love it when God repeats a theme! I keep seeing it, so I better pay attention and be a do-er!

  15. Susan, I had to come over and check out your blog. This was a beautifully written and insightful post, and it appears to have been very well received. Personally, I’m a bit in awe of folks like you who are able to write about scripture and expound upon its truths.

    Like all who have commented before me, I was convicted and need to consider more carefully the needs of the people around me each day, most of the time that’s my 2 sons.

    Thanks for your insights.

    • Susan

      Thanks, Michelle! Like I keep saying, I’m happy to spread the conviction. As we can see, there’s plenty to go around!

      And thanks for your kind encouragement. I’m sure you know the only One to be in awe of is HIM. I mostly just study and ponder, and occasionally compile my thoughts. HE IS GOOD to make something click :)

      Thanks for stopping by!

  16. Just wanted you to know that I have passed along the Kreative Blogger Award! Here is the link and all the scoop!! Love you!! http://clayzmama.com/2012/05/05/an-award-for-little-ol-me/

  17. In my crazy week last week, I had tagged this post in my email to come back to. So glad I did! I find it incredibly hard to recognize and accept God’s ordained interruption in my life sometimes. Yet there is much blessing when I do stop and take a closer look at what I’m speeding past.

    I’ve often done the very same thing…with that scripture, and with other situations. It’s easy to be on the outside looking in. If only we’d take that plank out of our own eye…

    Thanks for your obedience to post such a strong, convicting word. Praying today that I will be obedient to interruption!

    Hugs,
    Jeannette

    • Susan

      Thanks so much, Jeannette. I’m honored that you came back and left a comment. My head spun with conviction and application on this one. From the looks of things, I’m not the only one convicted. But like Cathy said, it’s a healthy God-glorifying OUCH.

      Hope this week is less stressful! Hugs from VA :)

  18. Love this! You’ve really given me something to think about.

    • Susan

      Thanks for stopping by, Tereasa. This post is near and dear to my heart, and I pray the Lord shows you someone who needs you.

  19. Susan, great post. I only imagine those days right now as I am home with four under seven. I struggle more to pass on people at my gate in an effort to say “yes” to the ones inside the gate. What is the best way that you found to prioritize relationships outside the gate while maintaining a healthy balance for your family while you had children at home?

    • Susan

      Thanks for stopping by, Lindsey. With four kids at home, your first priority are those little ones inside the gate! As far as prioritizing the relationships outside the gate, that’s a hard one to generalize. These were my guidelines when my kids were home –

      Kids’ activities – school volunteering, pta, sports, scouts, etc. They were my first priority, and I wanted to stay involved in what they were doing (and who they were doing it with);
      Extended family – my parents and inlaws are living (and aging), so I want to honor them and help as much as I was able; and
      Church and ministry .

      That worked for me, but I still over-volunteered and found myself burning the candle at both ends too many times. It’s a fine line, and you have to keep a close walk with the Lord so you can live with discernment. But you’re smart to remember that your family is your first priority, so do all you can to create a healthy environment in your home. Hope that helps :)

  20. I love the imagery of “who is at your gate?”
    When both of our girls initially left home, we found time for volunteering in areas we loved. It has been wonderful!

    A prayer my husband learned and then taught me goes something like this: Lord, you know my strengths and my gifts, so I ask you to put people in my path that you want me to help. What a powerful prayer that has been, and what opportunities we have had to help others. Sometimes we find our weak spots or areas where we need to grow, or are stretched and challenged, but that is just part of the wonderfulness.

    • Susan

      Thanks for stopping by, Kim. Both my kids are in college now, and you’re right – it’s a great time to volunteer!

      Love your husband’s prayer – powerful and effective, just like James says :)

  21. So true! People in need are all around us!

  22. Hi there, I found your site via the Allume link-up post, and I am so glad that I did! What a great inspiration this post was to me; thanks for sharing!

    Jennah

  23. This is a heart stirring post. Thank you for the reminder.

    I came over from the Allume link up, but I think I saw you at another link up today too!

    Mary
    http://memyselfandmercy.blogspot.com/
    Twitter: @MaryB0583

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