Stretch your heart to Love Bigger: a Lent devotional by Matt Stickel - Springs Rescue Mission Stretch your heart to Love Bigger: a Lent devotional by Matt Stickel - Springs Rescue Mission

 

Lent is a season of reflection — a time to walk in love and to meditate on how we as Christians can learn new ways to “Love Bigger.” To observe the 40 days of Lent, Springs Rescue Mission is sharing devotionals from local faith and community leaders. The theme of this series is the same as that of our organization: “Love Bigger.” These two words are meant to be a reminder of the endless love of God in our lives, as well as a charge to us as Christians to meditate on how we might reflect that love on our fellow man.

 

 

Let’s start with some quick stretches.

 

Stand up straight and keep your feet firmly planted. Without turning your neck, rotate your upper body at the hip to look as far to your left as you can. Hold your torso there for five to ten seconds, and remember whatever object or landmark is directly in your line of sight.

Great job! Now, let’s do it again.

This time see if you can stretch just a little bit further to see beyond the landmark you noticed the first time.

Isn’t it amazing how God created our muscles to work? They’re so pliable and malleable when we stretch. They can also get very stiff and sore when we neglect them too long and stop stretching.

In James 2:15-16, I’m challenged to stretch my heart and my love for others further than using a few mere words.

“Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, ‘Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well” — but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?” – James 2:15-16

How many times have I told a dear friend or family member going through tough times, “I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I’ll be praying for you.” Could I have done more to help? What if I expressed my love by sharing a meal or giving a small token so they know I’m there for them?

God works mightily through our “thoughts and prayers,” but He also works mightily through our acts of love and mercy!

When I think about the Great Commission, I’m reminded that He calls us all to share the Gospel and make disciples through words and deeds.

St. Francis of Assisi once said, “Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.” Our loving words are important, but sometimes our loving actions are what make the biggest difference.

“I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!” – Matthew 25:40

What did the brothers and sisters do for the least of these? Did they pray for them? Did they wish them well and move along?

No.

They fed the hungry. They gave the thirsty something to drink. They welcomed the lonely and unsheltered into their homes. They gave them clothes to wear. They spent time with them and shared with them some much-needed good news.

And I get it. It’s never easy. The issues that cause hurt, pain, depression and angst in people’s lives are never simple. They’re almost always too complicated, and we don’t want to get involved. Our lives are busy enough as it is, without having to stop and care for every struggling person we meet.

But I ask myself, can I afford to do it for one person a month? Can I stretch my heart a little bigger to help someone who needs more than just prayers and well-wishes? Can I give them a meal? A coat? New socks? Some of my time and hospitality?

Think of someone in your life who could use a helping hand. It might be an aging parent, a troubled teen or a homeless person on your way to work. What would it look like if you stretched your love a little bit further than “thoughts and prayers?” What could you do to minister to them? How could you bring hope and healing into their life?

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.” – Romans 12:9

This month, starting today, stretch your heart muscle to Love Bigger. You don’t have to change the world. Just reach out to one person. Stretch your heart and let them know you’re there to help — not just with words, but with humble service.

It’s not easy, but it’s always good to keep your heart muscle in shape. Don’t let it grow weak and get sore. You’d be surprised just how big you can love with a little stretching and lots of practice.

Matt Stickel is the Integrated Marketing Director for Springs Rescue Mission.

 


 

 

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About the Author - Matt Stickel

Matt Stickel has been with Springs Rescue Mission for almost four years and is currently serving as the Marketing and Communications Manager. His great-great grandfather was an English carpenter who built some of the first houses along Tejon St. in the late 1800s. Matt's family has called this amazing city home for generations since. He enjoys hiking local trails and reading inspirational books every chance he gets.