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The Thought Isn't Enough...

You probably heard it said, "It's the thought that counts." Usually this is said in reference to a poorly selected gift or ill-crafted statement intended to help or encourage. But does simply thinking about someone else actually count?

Over the last few years, I have had some really interesting interactions with people who have been on my mind.

In one instance early on last year, I had this thought that I needed to stop by a friend's office here in town and just say hi. I had this strong feeling that I needed to ask him what was on his mind. I drove by one time to see if he was there and didn't see his car so I went back to my office. I had the same thought again at least four other times over the course of the next couple of weeks, but never did anything about it. Sure enough, he ended up asking to meet with me. He had some very thoughtful concerns he and his wife felt they needed to bring to my attention. We talked, I cried (big surprise!), and we prayed. It was awesome!

A few months ago a friend popped into my head. He is a friend who I admire and look up to in many ways and he is a strong believer. I have sought advice from him numerous times in the last 5 years. As his name and face flashed through my mind, I found myself wondering what he needed. I wondered if he needed any kind of support in the same way I have needed support and found that support in him. I hesitated because of a quick flash of embarrassment, but decided to send a text that simply said, "Hey man! How can I pray for you?" Of course there was no response. I was waiting for the three little bubbles to pop up, indicating he was typing a response. Now the fear of what he might think popped into my head. But a day later, he replied with a well thought out answer for how I could pray. I later learned from him that he was truly working through something that day and the text had given him encouragement and support.

Just last week an individual who goes to our church popped into my head out of no where. I started to think about his family and a recent transition he had in his career. I wondered how things were going and considered reaching out to him. Instead, I prayed for him and then moved on. It wasn't more than two or three days later I received a message that confirmed this individual was in a tough spot and could really use some face to face encouragement and support.

This and more reminds me of an incident in the book of Acts in the New Testament. Paul, Silas, and Timothy are traveling around the world preaching the gospel and delivering some instruction from Jerusalem to the churches that already existed. And in chapter 16, they get stopped and redirected by the Holy Spirit. Check out this account of what happened:

6 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. 7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. 8 So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. 9 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
Acts 16:6-10 (NIV)

Paul has a man from Macedonia pop into his thoughts, and he doesn't ignore the thought, he moves into action immediately, determining that God must be at work in that moment. What came out of this decision to act? The conversion of Lydia, the church at Phillipi, and Paul's letter to the church titled "Phillipians". Paul and Silas also ended up in prison, but that was a cost they had already considered and come to terms with.

If you are anything like me, you can have thousands of thoughts, hundreds of decisions, and multiple interactions with people every single day. It can become altogether too easy to have a thought drop into your mind, think about what you should do with that thought, and then just as quickly as the thought entered into your brain, it escapes before you are able to take any kind of specific action. But here is what I am learning. When my thought involves an individual person, I have to do something with that thought. In that moment I have an opportunity to connect with someone who matters. At the very least, they matter to their Father in heaven. A simple text, phone call, Facebook message, or any kind of contact could be exactly what that person needs in that moment. In the same way the Holy Spirit guided Paul to Macedonia, the Holy Spirit will often interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to use us to reach out to someone and provide hope, faith, and encouragement to them in the very moment they need it.

In the cases above, I am grateful that these individuals were not as lazy as I was. I thank God that they were willing to reach out and I was able to learn from those interactions and be a support to them as well as be supported by them. I ask God to forgive me for the many times I may have ignored His urging to reach out to someone and I pray that I will not be so busy with tasks, that I forget about people.

If you are thinking of someone in your life right now, consider sending them a message. Don't just stop and pray for them, reach out and ask them how you can pray for them. Connect with those God has laid on your heart. You never know what God might be up to.


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