Today I want to share with you how much a book has influenced me in ways I couldn’t have imagined. Everything we read exerts an influence on us, for good or ill, and leaves us changed – albeit imperceptibly.

Books certainly have the ability to take us into ‘Another world’. Particular books stay with us and never seem to want to leave. Their savour and flavour linger on long after the last page has been read. The book with the biggest influence on my life is the Bible as it has been literally life-changing and transforming for me and it is an inexhaustible treasure to those who seek to mine its depths.
After reading  ‘Wrecked’ by Jeff Goins  –  a heart-rending account of his own personal journey to be compassionate and a call to others to heed the cry in their own hearts – I had a great challenge to my own idea of compassion in action. 

If you haven’t read it yet then I urge you to do so if you are not afraid to have your preconceptions challenged about how to care for those in need. It certainly moved and affected me greatly.

Reading by its very nature can be a solitary pursuit but this book encourages us to action, to get out there, reach out to others and make a difference in their lives.

Nothing beats face-to-face contact and getting to know people as they really are. Indeed, deep down, we have a need to know and be known like that by those who we trust.
We all need love and acceptance and to learn how to give that to those with whom we connect closely. But what about those who we don’t know yet, those whose lives are lived in isolation from ours and whose needs are greater than we may imagine – can we give to them too?
It is sometimes easier to be compassionate towards strangers as it can help us feel good about ourselves and may have less emotional complications too.

The art of compassion is to be merciful and caring toward others – to reach out a helping hand. We cannot all be the ones who ‘Go’ but we can learn to live a lifestyle of compassion. Then we can come to the point where we ask God to ‘break our hearts for what breaks Yours’ as depicted in the Casting Crown song ‘Jesus, Friend of Sinners’ below.

“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop” ~ Mother Teresa
 As usual, when deeply moved by something, I have turned my thoughts into a poem about heeding the call to be compassionate. I hope it will stir you too.  Further reflections and suggestions about living a lifestyle of compassion will follow in a future post, as I am only scratching the surface here by opening up this topic.

‘Reaching out a hand’

Tossing coins from our pockets
shelling notes out from our wallets
or donating via a form;
Yet we can remain
strangely unaffected
by the desperate
and forlorn.
From Indifference set me free.
I want to hear
I want to feel
I want to know
I want to see
I want to care.
Lord, break my heart
with what breaks Yours.
Let me be Undone
Unable to stay the same
Unable to turn away
My own world torn apart
as I drink the cup –
of suffering before me
and open up my heart.
Encourage me to follow
in Your footsteps of Love
No matter where they lead
No matter what the cost,
To be wrecked inside
by the detritus of lives
I’d previously ignored –
To seek to help the lost.

A prayer:

Dear Father,
We often feel so impotent in the face of suffering.
Please show each one of us what we can do to help others.
Fill us with your love and compassion
as we strive to follow the example of Jesus,
to be His hands and feet
to the needy, poor and hurting in our midst.
May our hearts become softened 
by Your Spirit
and willing to be obedient 
to Your leading and guiding
as You call us to 
reach out a hand
to those whom You 
love and died to save.