My instructor for a class at Spring Arbor shared a poem with us this week that has hit me really hard. It is a poem that speaks of opening our hearts to love those around us with the love God has given us, only to find that every single person in the world is in need of this love from God. As we grow in love for others, the territory of that love expands continually, until we cannot see any person without seeing the need to love.
If we attempt to love each person we meet in our own strength, we will fail because it is too overwhelming for us to handle ourselves; the need is just too great. But if we seek the face of Jesus in each encounter, if we invite him deeper into these experiences, then we will be loving Jesus when we love each one of these, and we will find his presence and love available for us to receive and then pour out.
Lord, Why Did You Tell Me to Love? by Michael Quoist
Lord, why did you tell me to love all people?
I have tried, but I come back to you, frightened.
Lord, I was so peaceful at home, I was so comfortably settled.
It was well-furnished, and I felt cozy.
I was alone, I was at peace,
Sheltered from the wind and the rain, kept clean.
I would have stayed unsullied in my ivory tower.
But, Lord, you have discovered a breach in my defenses.
You have forced me to open my door.
Like a squall of rain in the face, the cry of others has awakened me;
Like a gale of wind, a friendship has shaken me;
Stealing in like a shaft of light, your grace has disturbed me.
Rashly enough, I left my door ajar. Now, Lord, I am lost!
Outside, they were lying in wait for me.
I did not know they were so near; in this house, in this street, in this office; my neighbor, my
colleague, my friend.
As soon as I started to open the door I saw them, with out-stretched hands, anxious eyes, longing
hearts, like beggars on church steps.
The first came in, Lord. There was, after all, a bit of space in my heart.
I welcomed them. I would have cared for them and fondled them, my very own little lambs, my
You would have been pleased, Lord; I would have served and honored you in a proper,
Until then, it was sensible.
But the next ones, Lord, the others - I had not seen them;
they were hidden behind the first ones.
There were more of them. They were wretched; they overpowered me without warning.
We had to crowd in; I had to find room for them.
Now they have come from all over in successive waves, pushing one another, jostling one
They have come from all over town, from all parts of the country, of the world; numberless,
They don’t come alone any longer but in groups, bound one to another.
They come bending under heavy loads; loads of injustice, of resentment and hate, of suffering
They drag the world behind them, with everything rusted, twisted, and badly adjusted.
Lord, they hurt me! They are in the way, they are all over.
They are too hungry; they are consuming me!
I can’t do anything any more; as they come in, they push the door, and the door opens wider.
Ah, Lord! My door is wide open!
I can’t stand it any more! It’s too much! It’s no kind of a life!
What about my job?
Ah, Lord! I have lost everything; I don’t belong to myself any longer;
There’s no more room for me at home.
And Lord, You answered —
“Don’t worry, be happy! You have gained all.
While others came in to you,
I, your God,
Slipped in among them.”