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Alongside: Experiencing Jesus With Us Every Day- Week 4

Have you ever stopped to think about how amazing it is that when a siren from a paramedic or fire truck sounds while driving on the road, everyone immediately moves to the side? I hadn’t ever taken much time to think about this. It’s simply something we learn to do from a very young age by seeing people do it, and are taught to do when we learn to drive. So, we simply do it for the obvious good reason of letting the emergency personnel get to where they’re going to help people in need.

For some reason, when I was driving yesterday, I was listening to the song “Your Love” by Third Day, a song that’s been on repeat in my mind a lot lately, and paramedic sirens sounded and headed my way. I moved to the side, as always, along with everyone else, but this time, as the words “Your love Oh Lord, reaches to the heavens. Your faithfulness stretches to the sky,” played in the background of the siren, I felt awed by the way we all moved over. Like always, it happened smoothly and seamlessly. No one seemed annoyed as if this was an inconvenient interruption in their day. Everyone simply moved over, and this time I wondered what the world might be like if we all did this more often for each other. What if we all had little alarms that sounded when we were in some state of “emergency?” Yes, that would for many reasons probably be chaotic and unhelpful, but, what I mean by this is, if people knew someone needed help, in any way, whether emotional, physical, or spiritual, how might things be different if people moved aside to make sure this person got the help needed?

This reminded me of a scene from the Netflix series The Crown, which I’ve been watching recently. In one of the episodes, before Elizabeth is queen, she is visiting Africa, and her father, the king, passes away. All the people there find out what has occurred, and as she is leaving to go back home, they all come out from wherever they are, line the path and sides of the road, and pay respects for her loss and the death of the king. This struck me as being such a beautiful act of kindness for another person, being present in her grief and loss, which is often the only thing and the best thing one can do for someone who is sad. I remembered thinking when I watched this how wonderful it would be if this happened for everyone, not just for someone who is famous or well-known, but for all, the least to the greatest.

Both of these instances were reminders to me to be that person to others, to not be in such a hurry or wrapped up in my own things that I don’t see those around me. But it was also a reminder to me that when people are too busy, or don’t notice another, which inevitably happens, we have someone who always hears our cries for help, our little sirens that go off in our hearts and minds during whatever state of “emergency” we find ourselves in at any moment.

Psalm 34, one of last week’s recommended Psalms reminds us of this:

The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” Psalm 34:17-18

In last week’s suggested reading from Luke 19, I see this happen for Zacchaeus. While he climbs the tree, hoping to simply get a glimpse of Jesus walking by, he ends up getting what he really needs.

“When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.” Luke 19:5

Like the small miracle of cars moving over for paramedics, do you see the miraculous in this small passage? Jesus is a busy guy. He has a crowd of people following him, surrounding him, as he makes his way through the town of Jericho. BUT HE STOPS, LOOKS AT ZACCHAEUS, AND CALLS HIM BY NAME. Then he INVITES him down and says he MUST be a guest in his home today.

Zacchaeus went looking for Jesus and he got more than he realized he needed. Zacchaeus was not a well-liked man. People criticized Jesus’s invitation, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner.” That didn’t matter to Jesus. He SAW Zacchaeus, the whole Zacchaeus, and knew what he needed. So he went to Zacchaeus, spent time with him, and blessed and changed his life.

Can you picture yourself for a moment as the Zacchaeus? You’re obviously not him, and your situation is not the same, but picture Jesus looking at you and saying, “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today!” Put in other words, imagine him saying, “Quick, come to me, seek me, and I will live in your heart and be with you today!”

Matthew 28:20 says “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

This is a promise we can count on, Jesus with us always, and his love that is more than we even realize we need.

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

So, as you go through this coming week, remember these promises. They can literally be the paramedic to your heart and soul, the thing that saves you from whatever needs rescuing – fears, doubts, worries, sadness. And they can also be the thing you celebrate. In those moments of joy, laughter, times when things are just right, whether for a small or long moment, you can look to him and be thankful for his presence in it all.

Have a blessed week, friends, with Jesus as your rescuer, the one who walks by and stops to notice you, ALL of you, and happily invites himself into the home of your heart.

This week’s suggested readings and Journal Prompts:

John 21 – This passage was suggested last week, but maybe read it again! I ran out of space and time to talk about it this week, but plan to next time. Try picturing yourself in this scene, like I suggested here with the Zacchaeus passage. What do you notice about Jesus? What is Jesus saying to you in this passage?

Any Psalm -Which Psalm speaks to you that you can reflect on this week? Read one or several over this week, journal them, post them where you can see them, look them up on a music app to see if someone has put it into song. What does the Psalm you chose tell you about God?

John 2:1-12 – After reading this, what might be the thing that you are worried about not having enough of? Here Jesus turned water into wine to prevent shame and embarrassment for this family. What can he provide better than you or anyone else can in your situation? Talk to him and ask him for his strength, guidance, and help. Then pray for trust with his answers, even if his answer is different than your expectation.

Colossians 3:12-15 – What part of this verse catches your attention? What do you need God’s help with in order to let peace rule in your heart? Reflect on this passage, copy part or all of it, journal your thoughts, pray and list three or more things to be thankful for today.

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