Sometimes discipleship happens in the context of long-term relationships. At other times, brief encounters give us the opportunity to share God’s love in meaningful ways. Being disciples of Jesus means allowing His love to fill up our lives, so that whatever the situation, we are ready to let that love splash over on those around us.
“May God our Father himself and our Master Jesus clear the road to you! And may the Master pour on the love so it fills your lives and splashes over on everyone around you just as it does from us to you.” 1 Thess 3:12,13. The Message.
I see a glass, full of water. As more water is poured in, it splashes over onto the tablecloth, the cutlery, the serviette and whatever else is around. A glass that is empty will not splash over; but a full one can’t help but splash over! The splashed water runs over hard surfaces and it is also absorbed into soft, dry things like cloth, carpet and soil. Its impact can be far-reaching and can bring about change in that which absorbs it.
The part of the country where I work in has less than 0.05% Christians, so this has become my prayer for myself and other staff of the hospital where I work: That the love of God would fill us and splash over to the people around us. Only a few expatriates work with the hospital team. Most of the Christians working here are cross-cultural workers within their own country. They come from the south and north-east—the more Christian and richer parts of their country. They leave behind family and well-paying jobs to come and serve in a place that is called ‘backward’ and very poor, so that they might share the love of God with the people in their care.
Government Medical Officers completing extra training in Family Medicine (General Practice) come to our hospital for the clinical part of their course. They stay with us for a period of ten days at a time, three times over two years. They get to see us at work and at home, so they get to observe all the aspects of our lives. They say things like this to us: “Your hospital is different. The hospital is clean,” “The doctors talk nicely to the patients,” “The doctors are willing to share their knowledge with us.” They often ask why we have come to work in this ‘backward’ place, and then we have a chance to share about the love of God that compels us.
Some of our doctors go to visit the Government Medical Colleges in our area. They seek to encourage the Christian medical students and also build relationships with other students there. In the religious holidays, the medical students are invited back to our hospital for a retreat. During the day there is a clinical training program to supplement their college training. In the evening there is a spiritual program including testimonies, discussions and messages. Now we have some of these students coming to us on other holidays just because they feel at home with us. They want to learn more about God’s love—the love that they have experienced splashing over to them.
Raj was a 20-year-old young man who came to us after eating rat poison in a suicide attempt. Unfortunately, the rat poison he had eaten was one that we cannot reverse and so this young man would die, probably in the next 24-48 hours. Olem is one of our nurses who has been changed by the love of God. During her duty she was able to share with this young man of the difference God’s love made in her life. Raj’s case is just one of over 400 suicide attempts we see in our hospital each year. Many of them come to our hospital because it is known in the area as a place that deals compassionately for people who attempt suicide. God’s love is splashing over again.
I first saw Beryl when she was left screaming and scantily clad on the ground outside the Outpatient Pharmacy. We guessed she must have been about seven months old but she was just skin and bones unable to sit up. She ended up in our Children’s Ward where the staff gave her the name of this precious jewel. Within a week she was smiling and responding to anyone who came to give her a cuddle. I often finished my ward rounds by going in and playing with her. The hospital carried the cost of caring for her, since her family was never found. Today Beryl is a healthy little girl, thanks to “super flour halva” and the care of the staff in the Children’s Ward. (Super flour halva is a porridge made from local grains and pulses that provides a great source of carbohydrates and proteins). Beryl has also gained the love of a family: in the home of a couple who were not able to have a child of their own but are full of the love of God.
Pari was one of our nurses who came in to visit me and ask for advice with her crocheting. As we worked with the wool, she shared with me the challenges she faced regarding her family who were not following God’s ways and wondered what she should do when she had to leave the hospital and return to her home district. Now I get text messages from her from time to time. She is working in a remote part of the country where she has no phone, no electricity and she is both the doctor and the nurse. I thank God for the chance I had to splash over some of the love of God to her, which she is now splashing over to others.
Some years ago, after facing public transport in the heat and humidity, Denise and I bought a big, cold, refreshing milkshake. As Denise sat down, she managed to spill her drink, and what a mess it made! Before it completely spilled, she managed to catch the drink with about three quarters still in the cup. What amazed us was how far the spilled part had spread. It covered a large area of the table and the cleaner had a big mess to clean up on the floor too. And that was just one quarter of the drink!
And so I keep praying: that the love of God would fill my colleagues and me to overflowing. We have seen some of the impact as God’s love has been absorbed into dry and thirsty lives around us—but we long for more. Just like with Denise’s milkshake, sometimes we are amazed at how far the splash spreads. I think that we will be even more amazed when we reach heaven, because God has promised that His love and His Word will not return without making an impact in the world around us.
The author is an Interserve Partner in South Asia.