PLI – Ministry Moments – September, 2018

PLI Ministry MomentsI am one of those people who was born, baptized and raised Lutheran. There was a short period of time during my first marriage that my then
husband didn’t let me go to church. God was always the safe place I would turn for comfort, guidance, peace, and gratitude. At times in my life I was confused, frightened and conflicted, but in the end I could always turn to God. I am blessed, and will continue to be blessed.
There are people who don’t know God, have chosen to barricade themselves against God, or maybe don’t understand God. Many young people have a hard time imagining that God loves them because they haven’t experienced the church to be a loving place. I am truly sorry for them and have a great deal of empathy for them. I have learned in the past two years that
these people are not necessarily looking for God. How can they look for someone they don’t know? How can they know what is missing in their lives when they don’t know it is missing?
Why would they look to God when so many have been hurt by people of the Church? So where does that leave us? We know what God has to offer, we know what God can do. How do we let those who don’t know anything about Him and what He can do for them know about this amazing gift He has for us all?
Over the past two years I have learned that I need to be me, I need to love my neighbor the way Jesus loved His neighbors. Jesus met many people along the way in His ministry. Not all of them knew Him, not all were receptive, not all of them were Jewish, but He loved them all and reached out to them. Some of them were tax collectors, Samaritans, prostitutes and all of them were sinners. He didn’t judge them right off the bat, He didn’t tell them they were lost forever, He showed them love and compassion. Once
He became their friend, He told them how to achieve the peace He had for them. Not one of them started out wanting to be “saved” by this stranger, but through His love and compassion for them, they knew and began to understand His love.
We have many opportunities to love our neighbor, to not judge them or hold it over them that we have something they don’t have; they will see that as we get to know them and they get to know us. It is amazing how many times I have been asked what it is that allows me to keep smiling through adversity, or asked “what is it that you have that keeps you smiling through all that you are or have gone through”. That is my opportunity to say what I have. I have the Love of God, the forgiveness and compassion of my Lord and Savior. I am blessed. I thank God for the people in my life that showed me and loved me even when I was unlovable. The ones that I
learned from, I pray that I can show the love and compassion He shows me every day. I pray I can bless others as I have been blessed.
In HIS service,
Debbie Oatman