one of my favorite things about god is how he doesn’t always work the same way. yes, there are times when we pray and pray and pray and pray and through that, god works out something. there are times when we ask god to find something in us that needs to be worked on and show it to us and he actually does it. all of those times are great and i love them, but my favorite way that god works is when he shows up out of nowhere and smacks me in the face.

and he did that wednesday night.

we had our weekly high school gathering on wednesday night. it was our first one back after the trip to jacksonville and we had around 100 students there. a couple of days earlier our student ministries worship guy had sent me a message and asked if i could play bass for worship that night. i told him that i’d be more than happy to even though i hadn’t played bass with a group in probably six years (he, of course, didn’t know that part).

wednesday morning rolled around and he e-mailed me the songs we were playing. of the four songs, i vaguely recognized one of them. they were relatively easy though so i wasn’t that worried.

wednesday afternoon came and we practiced and things went great. it felt so good to play music again, and even better to know this time it was in a way that was actually meaningful and not about a girl. i was comfortable with the songs and not nervous at all going into the event.

wednesday night got there and it was time to get on stage and play. the first song went fine and i got over the awkward newness of standing in front of 100 high school students and helping lead worship pretty quickly.

then the lights went out.

okay, it wasn’t all of the lights, only the ones that shined on my chord sheets so that i knew what i was playing. and to make it even better, we were on the song that had a lighter colored text/less bolded font on the paper.

i couldn’t see what note i was supposed to play in a song that i didn’t really know.

i somehow made it through the next three songs without screwing up too bad but instead of coming out of it with the, “yay god, that was awesome!” feeling that i thought i would i came out with a, “wow, that didn’t go well at all” feeling. at that point i was sort of okay with the idea of simply sitting back and listening to the stories of the students in jacksonville, saying bye, and going home for the night with nothing more than a few laughs and fun thoughts.

i didn’t expect for god to randomly show up and do something after he didn’t when i thought he would in the worship section.

but then, of course, he showed up.

one of our students, a rising senior, was in front of the group talking about what god had showed her during the week in jacksonville. she started off saying how she really started understanding that we as christians are supposed to love those around us. i was happy to see a student starting to “get it” even more and thought it would end there.

but then, of course, it didn’t.

she went on to talk about how we’re supposed to love everyone. it didn’t matter who that person was or what they did or what color they were or how much money they had. we were supposed to love them. once again, i was thrilled to see a high school student understanding that at a relatively young age and thought it would end there.

but then, of course, it didn’t and she went on and god slapped me in the face.

she said that we were supposed to love everyone and that simply tolerating them or “not hating” them wasn’t enough. not making jokes about the poor kid or the girl that dresses funny and wears a cape isn’t enough. that’s not loving them. we’re commanded, as christians, to love those people.

well, crap. now i feel all convicted and junk.

she didn’t know it at the time, but a 17-year-old rising senior in high school was telling a story and making a point that was something that i needed to hear badly.

there are people in my life that i don’t really like. i either don’t get along with them, have nothing in common with them, or they just really annoy me. i do my best to tolerate them and not hate them but i don’t necessarily do a great job of loving them. i may say hey and ask them how they’re doing when i see them but truthfully i couldn’t care less how they were. i just do that because it’s the polite thing to do.

or maybe i hold the door open for them when their hands are full because it’s “nice” but i don’t bother to offer to carry anything because that’d be inconvenient and, well, i don’t really like them in the first place.

or i see on facebook that they just broke up with their boyfriend so when i see them calling i don’t want to hear them whine so i just hit the “ringer off” button (i’d never hit ignore because then they’d know i ignored them – ringer off makes it seem like i couldn’t get to the phone.)

in all of these situations i just tolerated the person. i didn’t love them. i get paid to be a christian leader and to show the love of jesus but yet sometimes i don’t care how someone’s doing, i won’t take two minutes to carry something for someone, and i’m not there to be a shoulder to cry on when someone needs it.

it’s easy to get into that rut. life gets hard and we all have our own problems. tolerating other people and being polite is much, much easier than loving them.

there’s no risk involved in that.

there’s no time commitment involved in that.

there’s no effort involved in that.

but god tells us if we’re to love him we’re to love his people. he doesn’t tell us to tolerate them. he doesn’t tell us to be polite to them. he tells us to love them.

that’s something i’ve got to do a better job at.

because loving others is the only way we’re going to change the world.

say your prayers and take your vitamins.

have a nice day.