Last night, my wife and I had our first college ministry event of the New Year. Dani asked the students to write down what they thought God was asking them to do and to turn it into a declaration of intent. There were some really great things that came out – words about trust, dependency and growing in love. My declaration was this: I will stop for the one.
“Stop for the one” is a phrase I’ve taken from Heidi Baker. It means be present with the person I’m with, seeing everyone around me with eyes of love and compassion. It means to stop, literally stop, my frantic lifestyle and actually see people. It means to help someone change a tire on the side of the road. It means to help a stranger find their way. It means to love and serve, one person at a time.
I have a confession: I don’t tend to think in terms of individuals. I tend to think in groups and communities and movements. I think of preaching to crowds and statidums, not ministering to a single person. I think of cities, states and nations being transformed with the Gospel – not a man, or a woman, or a child.
But God calls us each by name.
God doesn’t look down from Heaven and see some ambiguous city. He looks down and sees Ben, Dani and Emory living next to Brian and Becca who live across from Jenna and Bekah. He sees each of us as ourself.
“Stop for the one” is the Sermon on the Mount, the Good Samaritan, the parable of the Sheep and the Goats. It is stopping for blind Bartimaeus or the woman with incessant bleeding. Stopping for the one is the way Jesus ministered. He certainly taught crowds and multitudes, but he never lost sight of the individuals – he was never too busy, too hurried or too important to stop for a single person.
That challenges me. I realize I have a lot to learn about loving people – seeing people. Lord, help.