During the meal it is obvious Rob is hungry.  He tells you that when he became 18 his mother’s third partner turned him out saying he was old enough to make his own way in the world.  Since 14 he has worked on Saturdays in a local shop, and he ekes out his meagre savings with random gardening jobs.  His hostel isn’t ideal, but he tells you about the kind people whose gardens he’s worked on who give him cups of tea and feed him.

Your heart goes out to this pleasant boy. If you had room you would offer him a place to sleep.  He wants to get involved in the church, shows an interest in the Alpha Course and asks questions about how you found Jesus, and your life with Him. The reasonably priced, acceptably cooked lunch is filling. When the pub fills up you are keen to leave, but Rob is happy to stay on and watch ‘the footie’ on the big screen.  In seeing the landlady making up baguettes you buy one with a packet crisps and two cans of Cola. You take that back to Rob to enjoy later. His eyes fill with tears, his thanks are profuse, you say you will see him next Sunday and laughingly tell him you can’t always promise lunch!  At that he grins happily.

Walking back, joy rises up.  After your initial irritation you are pleased to have responded as Jesus would have done. It was easy to emphasize with Rob as his story is similar to yours.  At sixteen you had a full-time job and shared many flats until you had saved enough to rent your own.  You ask the Lord for someone at church to provide a bed for him.  Closing your front door you thank the Lord for the provision of your flat and sense the Lord is waiting for you. Sitting in your chair you glance at the open Bible and your eyes alight on a verse bringing them to widen in astonishment.  ‘Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.’  This isn’t Psalm 27 where you left the Bible open, so whose hand turned the pages to reveal such a pertinent verse?  Ridiculously you look around and sense a chuckle!  Why are you surprised, after all His Word is supposed to speak to you!

Word:  “Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. “Romans 12:15

Worship:There was Jesus” – Zachary Williams & Dolly Parton  4 mins

Key 12 – Empathy