November 27 I Friday
1 Peter 4
“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.” —Romans 12:16
When I was doing ministry in the inner city of Philadelphia, I was assigned by the mission organization to attend a local church. At that church, one lady stuck out. She came to church faithfully every Sunday. During the preliminary service, where it was an open space for anyone to recommend a hymn to sing, share a verse or pray a prayer, this lady would ask to sing the same hymn week after week. She spoke with a bit of a stutter, “Hy-hy-mmnn…nu-nu-num-ber…t-t-two…six...two,” which was “Sweet Hour of Prayer.”
Three months after hearing her request the same hymn, I thought it would be a good idea to beat her to the punch by requesting that hymn as she arrived. But a few minutes later, this lady would stutter “Hymn 262” and we would sing it again. Snacks were handed out after the church service and this lady was the self-declared guardian on the snacks. If kids reached for too much, she would smack their hands because they were being greedy, but at the end of snack time, she would pile up the cheezies, stuff them into her jacket and leave.
A few months later, something broke in her home and she asked for someone to help her. I went to her place, stood on the collapsed porch, and when she opened the front door, the smell that hit me was unbearable. The back of her house was falling apart; the roof had caved in from water damage. Looking around, this lady was living in a home that I would not even allow my pet to live in. I got to hear her story on how her family abandoned her, so she tried to make ends meet on her own. She takes cheezies home from church because they were her meal for the week.
After seeing the condition this lady was living in, I remember feeling ashamed of how I felt towards her. The next time we sang, “Sweet Hour of Prayer,” I paid close attention to the words:
Sweet hour of prayer
Sweet hour of prayer
That calls me from a world of care
And bids me at my Father’s throne
Make all my wants and wishes known
In seasons of distress and grief
My soul has often found relief
And oft escape the Tempter’s snare
By Thy return, sweet hour of prayer
It dawned on me that the sweet hour of prayer was where this lady could escape, for just a moment, to look forward to and long for the return of her Saviour. What a lesson we can learn when we are willing to humble ourselves and love others as we love ourselves.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for associating Yourself with me—broken, needy and hurting. Help me to love others as You have loved me. Amen!