It was a difficult time for Shannon. Difficult is a weak word for what she was going through. How do you describe the pain of uprooting your large family from your home town to move to a new city. Her dad was recovering from septic shock after brutal rounds of radiation and chemotherapy. But leaving him to be cared for by her uncles and aunts, was an added strain. The family roots ran deep and then there was the church family that they were leaving as well.
But God was leading them to pastor a church in another town. So they obeyed. Easy to say, but not easy to do, except they knew God was in it.
They were filled with faith, love and excitement as they started their new lives in a strange town. These humble servants of God, Shannon, her husband and her children poured their lives into their new congregation.
Giving it everything they had to give.
But it wasn’t long until they realized the people they were sent to love on people did not want their love or their ministry. It was quickly obvious that their new congregation had their own agenda and it was nothing like the heartbeat God had given Shannon’s husband.
Shannon understood the key was prayer. So her prayer place was filled with fervent intercession.
One day Shannon was hurting. The load had gotten heavy.The criticism. Bitter words. The twisted accusations had become almost too much to bear, so she went to her prayer place and cried out to God. Her tears flowed as she poured out her pain to her Heavenly Father.
As she prayed, God showed her Jesus carrying His cross down the Via Delarosa. As she watched she saw the people sneering and spitting at HER precious Saviour. (You would have to know Shannon to know how much this woman loves Jesus.) She winched as she watched the crowd hiss, throw stones at Him and poke Him with sticks.
In the past when she thought about that journey our Savior took to the cross, she imagined that He had to shut His eyes and simply focus on getting to that Hill. To that place, even though it would cost Him everything, where He could finally fulfill the will of His Father. Where He would offer His life blood to atone for mankind’s sin in obedience to His Father, the one that truly loved Him and who He truly loved.
Squinted, tightly closed eyes?
She had always imagined He suffered all the pain of the cross through eyes squinted tightly closed so He didn’t have to see the hatred.
So he didn’t have to see the rage.
Or the hypocrisy.
Or the incest.
Or the faces of murderers.
Or of those that had committed the worse sin of all…
But that day, the Lord whispered to Shannon, “I didn’t close my eyes.”
Shannon was shocked at His reply. “I had to look. I had to see the faces of those ravaged by sin. That’s why I had to die– for their sins.”
What a revelation! He looked into the faces of those that hated them.
Not to return their hate…
Not to face them down to prove His strength…
But He looked because He saw them through a lens of love.
He saw people that needed a Savior…
Don’t under estimate the power of Jesus’ Love! His love looks like something.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 NIV
It wasn’t just the faces of those lining the streets that day that Jesus looked into.
Jesus didn’t just die for the people lining the street that day.
Hundreds of years later, we’re still in need of a Savior, because we’ve all sinned. We all need a Savior, no matter how good we may behave.
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Romans 3:23 KJV
I believe Jesus looked into the faces of people He loved on the way to that cross and even while hanging on that cross.
He looked because He loved.
What a life changing thought! This is a glorious picture of real love in action.
As a believer. How do we react when we are mistreated?
Do we glare back at those that hurt us with hatred…unforgiveness…ill will?
Do we whine and complain?
Do we strike back?
Do we just avoid them all together?
Or as the body of Christ are we expected to love like Jesus did?
How do you love like that?
I can tell you one thing.
I can’t do it. I cannot love people that hate my guts.
That’s a beautiful picture isn’t it! But the truth is gross guts is much better looking than the picture of hateful Christians.
Yes. I’ve seen a hateful Christian. I’ve been a hateful Christian. So sorry, precious Jesus!
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. John 13:34
I can’t love like that!
It’s not within my power to love that way, so I have to receive His to be able to give that kind of love away.
The writer of Hebrews uses Jesus as our example.
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Hebrews 12:2 NLT
Jesus focused on the joy awaiting Him.
That joy was the transformation of people that would take place when they received Him as their Savior and Lord.
Our assignment as believer’s is to be His Agents of Change, carrying
And watching Him transform lives.
Watching Him turn the sinner into a saint. Watching Him bring peace where there is turmoil. Watching Him do the impossible in a culture that still needs His touch!
Thank you, Shannon.
Thank you for showing and teaching us that we can love the unloveable.
Thank you for giving us a picture of what a Jesus hearted woman looks like! Love you precious woman of God!
Have a very blessed Easter!
Share His love and forgiveness with someone that needs it.
If you were blessed by Shannon’s story, I hope you’ll share it with someone.