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“Put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity” (Colossians 3:12-14).

Genocide ravages our eastern neighbors. Oppression torments those to our south. At home, rioters crawl in under the shadows of corruption to raze cities. Power-crazed leaders clamor to bathe in the spotlight, spurring world citizens with rallies to “do something” against injustice. Armed with fresh rage, the masses rise to wreak destruction.

Thus humanity declares enmity with itself. War spreads like a cancer. In its wake, monuments erected by our creative souls lie in ruins. The earth reddens, awash in the blood of our brothers and sisters.

From the surface, many declare us a planet of incompatible nations and divergent races. Unique cultural shimmers harden into blade-like divisions. We reject a blend of spices which could enhance nourishment, and instead burn one another’s food.

All people hunger. Regardless of our native continents, we thirst. In our many-faceted ways, we yearn to reflect the Creator’s nature. And we all need togetherness. We are, in fact, more alike than different.

Fundamental sameness resounds in our design. First and foremost, we belong to the human race. All nations rest under the authority of One King. God’s authority isn’t dependent upon acknowledgement.

Christ rebuked division, yet stood against injustice with His Father’s perfect resolution. He responded to poverty, imprisonment, and affliction with loving service. He declared war against evil and forged a path of mercy for people. Without His deliverance, we all remain in the clutches of darkness and death. Our true battle must be as His, against the enemy behind all this destruction and not waged against one another. Jesus’ ministry rejected rioting in favor of healing, provision, and liberating souls. The King of Kings vanquished evil and remains Prince of Peace for humanity.

Let us follow in Christ’s footsteps, viewing our brothers and sisters as precious to our Father. Let us strive to celebrate our divinely sculpted variety while embracing the unity of God’s design. Will you join me in prayers and efforts toward peaceful healing? We cannot conquer the world’s darkness on our own, but each of us can act as a candle to dispense a circle of it with His light.

How good and pleasant it is
    when God’s people live together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1)

“With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet, you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.” – Dr. Seuss

I don’t venture up onto my roof often. In fact, I only brave that weak-kneed climb if no one else volunteers to help with an annual task. My core tightens as I wobble those initial steps. After I reach the center and grip onto an anchoring structure, my lungs relax for a full breath. I look out across the treetops as dusk honeys the heads of our neighborhood live oaks. My view extends beyond our street to the school, ballparks, and the mass of homes further outward.

A moment on the peak shifts my perspective. The sunshine’s caress penetrates my cheekbones. The breath of a fresh season revives my senses. I consider distant homes as my neighbors. At this moment, when God secures my quivering frame, the world feels both larger and more intimate. Standing on the rooftop, I recognize myself as a saint.

As twilight darkens my view, time demands my return to life on the level earth below. I resume my daily routines, walking across the dust of the past toward the tomorrow from which it will grow. The miseries and burdens of passers-by permeate the stagnant air. I see despair in their eyes and feel the pull of hopelessness from their hearts. So much pain. I reach out with an urge to help, but hesitation quivers in my fingertips. I, too, have knees prone to buckling. Who am I to offer them strength? What if I let these fragile neighbors down? My doubts and fears tire me, and I begin to sink onto the curb of purposelessness. The suffering of life on the roads and in the alleyways tempts me to forget I am a saint.

Rays warmer than sunbeams lift my drooping chin. I need not search with my eyes to know Who is there.

“You are not made to be a saint for the rooftop,” He says. “Nor are you made to pour your own strength out to sustain these others.”

I want to leap from the curb and snuggle in His arms. Every muscle of my body, to the core of my soul, longs to soak in His presence forever. “Keep me with You,” I say.

My spirit inhales a heady draft of His invigorating fragrance.

“You are a saint because I am with you. Here on the road…” He turns my shoulders to face out across the vast neighborhood, through the nearby fences and into the world beyond them. “And out there. I am the strength you offer, the healing you convey. You got your bearings on the rooftop so you can live My purpose while you’re down here.”

I crane my neck, attempting to glimpse His brilliance. Though my eyes fail to capture a view of the Son, He has not left me alone. The Word of my promise-keeping God anchors my certainty about His location–within my heart.

I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you” (John 14:20).

The confidence that He remains with me girds my weak knees to venture out into the world and steadies my frail arms to reach out to bless those who suffer. I do not merely give myself to those in need, but I offer Someone far better. He alone can transform the unsteady roof climber into a earth-treading saint. The Son Who did so for me can change any willing soul. With such immense suffering, the world needs more saints to climb down and share His love on the roadway. Let’s reach out together, in His strength, to leave no neighbors to despair of hope.

“I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John17:20-23).

 “For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:18-20).

I prayed about whether to attend the conference.

A dream rolled a motorcycle to my porch. The director rapped on the front door. “We’ve got work to do.”

Along the winding road to the summit, I anticipated a supportive role during the conference. I woke with a chuckle about the motorcycle ride, but continued to pray about attending the conference for the next few weeks. The Lord impressed His desire for me to go, but also underscored the serious part of my dream–keeping a servant’s heart.

I arrived a day early, searching for an opportunity to serve. An extra trip to pick up a stranded conferee seemed like a small way to help. I enjoyed the company too much to consider it sacrificial.

The next morning, I battled through the fugue of insufficient sleep and visited a local church. The message centered on Jesus’ call for us to imitate Him as He washed the disciples’ feet at the Last Supper. Ways to deepen my willingness to serve grew clearer by the moment.

Numerous opportunities sprang up around me. I realized these needs existed in plain sight each day. In busy-mindedness, my tendency would trend toward missing the chances to emulate Christ. Had the Lord not instructed me to focus on serving, I would have retained my gaze on the next agenda item for each day.

“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.  Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them” (John 13:13-17).

Each moment I took to encourage a first-timer, help a new writer, or pray with someone, it blessed me. Time could have passed in shallow, watch-checking minutes if I had ignored those opportunities. I’m thankful Christ shifted my focus away from what I could get out of the conference. Instead, my patient Shepherd used the week to teach me how to follow in His steps.

Despite the wealth of information in its classes, the most valuable thing I learned didn’t come from a lecture or workshop but from the Servant’s lesson. I pray He will continue His patient teaching as long as I have time left to walk this earth.

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With one hand on the shopping cart handle and the other linked to the smallest of three toddlers, a young mother scanned the busy parking lot from the curb.

“Hold your brother’s hand when you cross the street,” she said.

The four year-old wrinkled his nose at the younger boy to his left. Thrusting his chin upward, the elder child folded his arms and sprinted away from the curb. The three year old waddled in the opposite direction. Momma somehow caught a chunky arm from each boy and corralled them to the crosswalk. She set up an effective family safety plan, but her children didn’t understand their need to follow her directions.

I chuckled at the “eldest” child’s expression.  In a few years, he might have words to express his resistance.

“I don’t care if you are my Momma. No matter what you say, I am not holding that kid’s hand.”

God commands His children to hold hands. Unity with one another connects us to Him in a strong bond that protects us from evil. Pride tempts us to shrug off our siblings, as if our few years of seniority offer any significant maturity compared to God. The Lord’s grip is on the other hand of that wee sister, and she is our indirect connection to Him.

We often fail to understand why we need fellowship and remain oblivious to unseen perils. The Lord sees the traffic ahead and around us from a higher viewpoint. Sprinting off alone, we wouldn’t even see tragedy coming before it flattens us.

Whether young or old in Christ, cling in faith to His plan. We don’t have to understand why He commands us to hold hands, but it’s in our best interests to obey the source of infinite wisdom Who loves us more than we’ll ever know.

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