Yesterday, Jim Neely and I loaded up in his truck before sunrise and headed south to visit the City Road youth serving the needy of the Cumberland Mountains through their week with Mountain T.O.P. Ministries. I’m always blessed when I get to hang out with kids who are living out Christ’s call to love our neighbors, and we had a great day visiting 8 different job sites and driving almost 350 miles in the course of the day.
One of the things that became clear as we traveled from Baker Mountain to Pikeville to Dunlap to McMinnville to Doyle was that there continue to be great needs throughout our area. During the course of the day we met the sick and lonely, folks without electricity and running water, and people who live day in and day out with poverty around them. Our kids (and the kids from across the country working with them) did a great job of representing Christ’s love and working on the small projects they were given, but their work is just a drop in the bucket of the needs throughout our state . . . including our own neighborhood of Madison.
It’s easy in the midst of the need to experience “compassion fatigue.” It’s not that we don’t want to help others — we absolutely do. But there comes a point where we get worn out by all the needs, and we’re not sure we can carry on anymore.
Jesus understood those feelings. The gospels tell us that he tried to get away from the crowds filled with needs to regroup and renew. However, as he looked in the faces of the needy, the scriptures tell us that he “had compassion upon the crowds.” The Greek word we translate as “compassion” literally means “moved in one’s stomach,” that is, Jesus felt the needs of those around him in his gut . . . and in that was empowered to offer love in spite of his fatigue.
Are you moved in your gut by the needs of those who live around and among us? Are we empowered by God’s spirit to reach through our fatigue and offer Christ’s love however we can? What is our passion for the least and lost that walk and drive past our church every day.
My prayer for City Road is that we will be a people who feel the pain and need of the world, and respond accordingly. I pray that we take time to look around us and take note of the various struggles of our neighbors. May we be a people of compassion, reaching beyond ourselves to offer Christ’s love to a world in need.
God has put us in this place to be a beacon of love and light to the people of Madison. May that light burn bright as we live as disciples of Jesus Christ.