I recently found thirteen dogs and one cat who show us how to enjoy a peaceful holiday meal. In the process they demonstrate a central dynamic of relational wisdom (click here if video screen does not appear below).
There is a beautiful story behind this creative clip, as well as an inspiring life lesson. All of the “actors” were recruited from animal rescue shelters. Freshpet, the company that sponsored the project, wanted to demonstrate that dogs and cats that have been abused and cast off by others could behave well when treated with gentleness and love.
The same is true of people around us. Many of them have been mistreated and rejected, causing them to become suspicious, defensive and withdrawn.
But God loves to rescue people who are trapped in darkness and fear (Col. 1:13-14; Luke 4:18), and he will often use us as channels of his redeeming grace (1 Thess. 5:14). He brings lonely people across our paths so that we can reach out to them with his kindness and love (1 John 4:19).
They may be cautious at first, afraid to risk being hurt and rejected all over again. (I’ve felt that way myself at times.) But if we persist in treating others with gentleness and patience—just as Jesus has treated us—we will often be amazed at the way he rekindles trust and draws them into safe and meaningful relationships, with both himself and other people.
So look around you in the days ahead. Be more other-aware at church, at work, and in the grocery store. Look for people who seem lonely, cautious, or withdrawn, and reach out to them with a warm smile and words of encouragement. Do it day after day, constantly praying that God will channel his love and kindness through you to a broken heart.
And be ready to see him rescue others from the corners and shadows of society and bring them into his great banquet feast (Luke 14:21-23).
– Ken Sande
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- Watch the behind the scenes video that shows how they filmed the holiday meal with the dogs and cat. Notice how eager and yet gentle all of the young volunteers are as they care for their pets and make them feel safe and comfortable as they shoot the film. Are you that eager and gentle when you engage people who seem withdrawn or unsure of themselves? If not, ask God to give you a greater measure of his love and gentleness as you engage other people.
- Think of a time when you felt rejected or alone. Was there someone who reached out to you with unexpected kindness? How did that make you feel? What difference did it make in your life?
- Ask God to open your eyes to notice lonely and rejected people at church, at work, or in stores where you shop. When he does, make it a point to engage them with a smile and a kind word the next time you see them. Do it again and again until they can tell you are sincere. And then ask God to show you how he wants to use you to help them find meaningful relationships with other people and, most importantly, with God himself.
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© 2014 Ken Sande
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