A volunteer stopped me in the clothing room as I was making a donation to tell me he had just celebrated one year of sobriety. He said it all began when a volunteer shared with him that he had been forgiven.
He told me he had lost eight years of his life due to constantly being drunk. “When I heard that I was forgiven and could lay down my guilt and shame, I have been sober ever since," he said. "That’s why I love to volunteer– helping others in the clothing room, putting on the love and grace of Jesus!”
Right after the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6, verse 14 says: “If you forgive others their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you.” How often do we trip over the stumbling blocks of our own judgements of who deserves help, who has ‘brought it on themselves,’ or those people are not like me? When we judge others in this way, are we not like the very Pharisees that Jesus called hypocrites, which we criticize for their short-sighted, self-serving spirituality.
During this Lenten season, we give up many things in order to think of Him more often and realize our greater dependence on His love, grace and mercy. Our prayer is that we will give up those stumbling blocks which give us convenient excuses not to serve, or not to give. We thank God for all those who consider giving up two or four hours, once a week or once a month to encounter the Christ in serving their neighbor.
Someone asked me recently how ABCCM orchestrates change. I simply responded, “We create the opportunity for others to serve and watch who the Holy Spirit chooses to bring together.” The one thing we know is that when He brings people together, then He is in their midst and the joy of forgiveness, through grace and reconciliation, brings redemption in the lives of others. It can be through the smile and welcoming presence of a receptionist, or through the careful listening of an intake worker or counselor. It can be that doctor, nurse or pharmacist who offers not only a diagnosis and healing medication, but also that healing touch that lets another know how much God loves them.
Throughout this Lenten season, we will find out how much God loves us. Will you be His vessel so that another will know that God loves them?
Reverend Scott Rogers, Executive Director