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Just Do It—in Jesus’ Name!

Hearing a knock, I threw on my robe and answered the door. A middle-aged lady held out a tray piled high with delicious-smelling, baked cinnamon buns. “Would you like some of these for your breakfast?”

“Oh, Evelyn, yes!” I eagerly took some for myself and my apartment mates. Thanking her, I closed the door, struck by her example of “aggressive” love. Evelyn Pike, and her husband Ken, had arrived in Côte d’Ivoire only a couple days earlier to direct a workshop. Why hadn’t I thought to welcome them in such a friendly-neighbor fashion? Indeed, she turned the kitchen tables on us all!

Sometimes the Holy Spirit inspires us to minister to others in a special way. It may be a small thing like making cinnamon buns. Or it may be something demanding greater amounts of our time, energy and finances. Hans Martin and Käte Werle, translators with Wycliffe in Côte d’Ivoire, birthed the Gospels in more ways than one. The names of their sons matched those of the Gospel writers: Markus, Johannes, Matthias, and Lukas.

One day young Lukas, ran into the house crying “Bang, bang!” To the parents’ horror, they saw his left eye was gouged out. (To this day, they do not know how he was injured.) Käte accompanied Lukas to Germany for treatment, leaving Hans Martin alone with the other sons for over three months.

Missionary friends living near the Werles witnessed the trauma of the accident and the pain of the parents’ separation. Secretly, they planned a personal retreat for the couple, reserving a beautiful hotel room in a nearby city. When Käte and Lukas returned, they urged Hans and Käte, “Just go and enjoy yourselves. You need time to talk together alone. We’ll take care of the children.” They never asked the Werles what they thought of the plan. They just did it!

Weeks later, in a devotional message Hans gave to our Wycliffe group, he exhorted us to obey the Spirit of Christ when He nudges us to minister to others. It seems Hans was especially touched by his neighbors’ care because of its spontaneity.

Recently, after surgery, I was blessed by meals people brought for our family. I shared what these people did with friends on email. One European lady wrote back, “Bravo to those bringing you meals! That’s a great custom that we don’t have here. ‘Solidarity’ is replaced by ‘we don’t want to bother anyone.’” The Werles’ friends, Europeans, boldly crossed such cultural barriers.

Hans Martin and Käte later blessed me and my fiancé Neal in a similar manner when we married in Abidjan. Since we had no family present to help prepare our wedding, the Werles asked if they could help with the ceremony and reception. What a relief for us! Not only did Hans, an ordained pastor, deliver a touching sermon, he copied it by hand with a black ink stylus in a hand-made album. He and his wife arranged a splendid reception in a nearby hotel. Following European custom, guests regaled us with songs, violin and recorder performances, and humorous skits, poetry and ditties about how we met and fell in love.

Yielding to the creative nudge of the Holy Spirit is not “making hay when the sun shines” or admitting “opportunity only knocks once.” Self-seeking is excluded. Rather, these are golden, Spirit-inspired moments. Moments when God says, “Move!” It’s like catching a wave. It comes—and away you go! It’s about quick obedience, not procrastination.

James 4:17 says. “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.” A devotional from Streams in the Desert says it well:

Instant obedience is the only kind of obedience there is; delayed obedience is disobedience. Every time God calls us to any duty, He is offering to make a covenant with us; doing the duty is our part, and He will do His part in special blessing (reading for May 14).

We dread interfering in others’ lives. Indeed, some people do put their noses where they don’t belong. How can we know the right thing to do? Shall we consult books on etiquette to determine whether we might bother people or not? No. But if we walk in the Spirit as the Bible exhorts us to do, we will clearly hear His loving suggestions.

A lady from a praying church also recognized and obeyed God’s quiet voice. T.J. Holley, serving in trucking at JAARS, needed surgery for brain cancer. Hearing this, the lady took it upon herself to call The 700 Club in Virginia Beach on behalf of T.J. and his wife Kristin. She explained the situation and talked them into giving the couple two free nights at their resort hotel. She didn't let the Holleys know until it was all arranged.

Kristin says, “What a beautiful place! They gave us dinner theater tickets, a tour of the television studio, and we enjoyed a live show. We never would have thought of doing such a thing, but it was a special time for T.J. and me to get away together, rest and regroup after the trauma of the diagnosis, surgery and 5-day stay in the hospital.”

Who could call this lady’s actions hubris, a prideful overstepping of her bounds, of not knowing her place? She heard God, and never thought to ask herself, “What will they think? What will others say?” Her prompt obedience to her “duty” brought blessed relief to a couple in need.

Emily Dickinson penned lines about a shy and unsure heart, but one desiring to serve:

They might not need me; but they might.
I’ll let my head be just in sight;
A smile as small as mine might be
Precisely their necessity.

God knows today who needs a smile and some warm cinnamon buns or a weekend of pampering and privacy. As the Preacher of Ecclesiastes says, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” Do it for the glory of God. Do it, just do it—in Jesus’ Name!

June 11, 2003