We were driving through Melbourne, Florida and sitting at a red light. My wife looked off to the right and noticed a Publix grocery store that was empty and closed. She stated, “That’s strange, I have never seen a Publix that was closed before…..especially in such a good location.” I was in the middle of a conversation with my son about what we were going to do first when we arrived at Melbourne Beach….one of our favorite family destinations. As I drove past the Publix……I noticed movement on the inside of the store and quickly deduced that this movement wasn’t movement of “shutting down” or “going out of business” but movement of “opening up.” I made the statement that the store wasn’t closing, but rather...
it just had not opened yet.
it just had not opened yet.
It’s a peculiar thing..an empty store. Our beginning thoughts were that this store (if it were closed) at some point had been placed in this specific location to reach a specific group of people by providing them with the necessities of life….and that at some point…whether due to competition, poor management, bad location, or simple lack of foot traffic… this specific store decided it could no longer operate and was forced to close it’s doors..throw in the towel….so to speak. The end of this scenario is…… “failed hope.”
But upon further investigation..the complete opposite was true…THIS store was in deed not desolate(if not yet open), but FULL of potential. The aisles were being built. The floor was being buffed. The orders were being made. The staff was being hired, trained, and encouraged. The community was being notified. The parking lot was being filled with shopping carts. The signs were receiving light bulbs, and the shelves were being stocked with produce and goods that would benefit the lives of people for years to come. The end of this scenario is…. “fueled hope.”
One empty store…but two totally different reasons for being that way….and even more interesting…..two totally different outcomes. One ending in failed hope…the other ending in fueled hope. You see…a normal passerby probably wouldn’t even bother to ask the question why the store was empty…but then again….I am not exactly normal. “What does it matter?” you might ask. “What does it matter whether or not the store is empty because it is closed or empty because it has not yet been opened?” Why am I taking time away from my busy day to read about a grocery store in Melbourne, Florida?
…..because I believe this is exactly why we don’t try. I believe this is exactly why we don’t “change our world” and reach our friends with the truth of “life in Christ” and “eternity with God” and “abundant life” and “salvation of our souls….forever and ever.” I honestly think we are walking around and seeing people live their lives with NO HOPE in Christ and in some way….we just assume that ….they are CLOSED!!! “We cry out “failed hope.” We assume that because they’ve heard…because they’ve had opportunity…because they have seen Christ in action and done nothing about it…they they are simply not interested….and probably never will be. We assume that they simply have made their choice to live their life without the loving knowledge of a Savior…and when we drive by their house, their office, their softball field, their desk, their bedroom, their living room, their chair right beside ours….we say to ourselves “they are closed”…..and we just keep on driving. Our assumptions and our wrong perceptions need to be shaken. It is my attempt to do that today.
…..but what happens when a paradigm shift in our thinking occurs? One like the one that happened when I noticed the activity within the store……it wasn’t activity of breaking down….it was activity of preparation. (Don’t miss this…it’s deep….) Your friends….those people around you who do NOT know Jesus Christ…..are NOT CLOSED. They are simply….NOT YET OPEN. This changes everything. It should change the way you see them…approach them, think about them, pray for them….. God is working in and around their lives. He is shining floors, and building shelves. He is placing bulbs in lights, and doing everything He can possibly do to prepare them for THE grand opening…..the day that they realize that without Christ they can do nothing….but through Him..they can do all things. Not all WILL choose…but it that is not up to us to decide. The choice we have is to model fueled hope. There might be some people around you in this very moment that are SO ready for the opening to occur. Don’t look at them with eyes of “failed hope.” They are simply…..not yet open. Let them know that it is okay…it is safe….it is BEST…to simply let Go….and let God…….
May you see with new eyes this week. May your friends whose hearts are not yet opened be barraged with God’s love, His care, and His desire simply to come into their lives and radically change it for the good. May you be a part of that grand opening. May you speak and live words of encouragement. May you not have eyes of pity and despair, but may you have eyes of hope and prayer. May you remember…..really remember…..that… God is big enough and strong enough to do THIS THING….no matter how desperate the circumstances may seem. May you remember that He did it in your life…and that He did it in mine. May you recognize that YOU yourself are open…because someone saw you through a “fueled hope” eyes and they cared enough to share and explain the work of God all around you. May you do the same. May you praise God that He is not in the business of closing down, but that He is in the business of opening up. May one soul this week be spared the fire of hell because you took the time to care.
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. - 1 John 4:9-14
Discipleship Thought Originally created 10/4/10