I could hear the rapid pounding of her knuckles against the hard wood frame as she began to knock fiercely on my hotel room door. “Housekeeping”, she shouted. I opened the door and ushered her in. Lila Mae was her name, jovial, animated and full of laughs, yet deep within her was a painful secret from the past that she had kept discreetly hidden for many years….
Earlier in the week, I had found myself sitting in my over-stuffed comfy chair, emotionally drained, overwhelmed, praying that God would slow me down, “unrush me”, show me how to get some misplaced priorities in line, and lead me to greater opportunities to hear the hearts of broken people. Yet amidst the chaos, busyness, and fast paced schedule of my conference, I had not anticipated that the occasion would come so quickly.
“Lila Mae, you got any toothbrushes on that fancy little cart of yours? While you’re searching, girlfriend I ain’t gonna lie, I sure would love to have a couple extra packs of that orange flavored tea AND by the way honeychild you sure do ROCK that fancy hair do!!!” My southern girl accent and corny sense of humor had caught Lila Mae and her assistant Jackie by surprise.
What a Blessing; Moved With Compassion
Instantly, we hit it off. It was like we had known each other since childhood. Lila Mae stunned me, knocked me clear off my size eight feet, and sent me into a cackling, giggling, snorting tizzy by yanking off her wig and offering to let me try it on. My roommate Jennifer and I entertained Lila Mae and Jackie for what seemed like hours, but in reality it was fleeting minutes. The four of us broke into laughter that I am certain could be heard all up and down the halls on that thirty-first hotel floor.
I looked up at Lila Mae and with a holy boldness that could only come from God I began to ask her to share with us her story. Lila Mae’s voice broke. I could feel the salty tears on my lips as she began to tell how she had been sexually assaulted and abused when she was in middle school by several male family members which included her father and brother. Later, she would miscarry and deliver a small baby while sitting alone, broken, and confused in a stale, abandoned, secluded restroom.
Her crushing experiences had led her to a life of low self-worth, promiscuity, drugs, and poor choices. Years later, she had now found herself staying in a woman’s shelter, desiring a new life and change. Miraculously, in the midst of her shattered dreams and unbelievable circumstances she had found God! That’s right Lila Mae had asked Jesus to come into her heart and set her free from the bondages that had once held her captive to her horrific past.
The Lesson (and Blessing!) In Lila Mae's Story
Our time ended with the four of us holding hands together and praying for a mighty move of God in the lives of Lila Mae and Jackie. We cried out together and asked God to open a door for Lila Mae to leave the shelter and find a place of her own. The holy spirit had used Lila Mae to slow me down and remind me that life is about more than just me and my wants, my fears, and problems. I was put here for a purpose - to love, show compassion, share the gospel, and encourage others.
Sadly there are many others just like Lila Mae longing for someone to hear their story. The shock of broken hearts can be found among our family members, friends, co-workers, at the gym, in the grocery store check-out lanes, at the local shopping malls, and even within our churches. There are those struggling with finances, a prodigal child, depression, addictions, broken homes and marriages desperate for someone to offer a word of hope, encouragement, and let them know we care. Souls are dying right under the shadow of our church steeples and people are giving up without ever knowing the hope that can be found in Jesus.
Today ask God to help you see others as He sees them.
Father God, give us a heart of compassion for the hurting and the lost. Through this heart of compassion move us to become a part of what you are doing to take the gospel to broken people in our families, community, on the job, and outside the walls of our churches.
Lord, we pray that your love will be loosed in our hearts so that we will love and encourage those who feel as if they have lost all hope. This is your heart. By your grace, may it also be our heart. In the name of Jesus, we pray, Amen.
Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 1 Peter 3:8