(Photo by Selma Komisky)
Who I Needed
By Iain Dick
‘Pay It Forward’ is a bit of a phenomenon, and everyone who ‘gets it’ and acts on it will tell you how it’s affected their lives. Those moments are great, and we can all agree that taking that attitude out with you will sow seeds of joy, hope, and love to those around you. And with it being the Christmas season, what better time to start sowing those seeds into a broken society?
But how do you know what to do or where to start?
I can think of times when I needed someone. The funny thing is, I think if you were to ask me at the time who I needed, I don’t think I’d be able to say who it was.
I knew I needed Jesus and had Him as my ever-present help. I knew I needed my family and had them. I guess the real missing connection in much of my adult life was real, mutual, honest, and devoted friendship. Sure, my wife and I had friends who were couples, so collectively a husband-and-wife were our husband-and-wife friends. But I wanted to get to know a person or people who were friends with me. Who liked me as much as I liked them. Who I could be myself around.
I can communicate that past need now. Now that I have really good, godly, intimate friendships that add a whole wonderful facet to my life – and I thank God for them every day. But not everyone can articulate that need. Or if they do, it may come across as needy, or desperate, or as attention-seeking (God knows, that’s what I thought of myself when the penny dropped). Do we notice those people? Do we notice the not-so-obvious loneliness that can be sitting with us every week in our school, work, youth group, etc? It’s possible that we don’t even notice loneliness because everyone around us is with someone or talking to someone.
I realized recently that I don’t always realize how lonely I can be until after the fact. So now, I feel like I notice loneliness in less-obvious places. There’s my opportunity. That’s me Pay It Forward. If I can spot a need and can meet that need – that’s a seed sewn.
Matthew 25:34-36 says, “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’”
The needs that Jesus talks about here are of the more obvious variety, and they serve as an excellent example of how when we see a need, He sees and receives that. Later in that passage in verse 40, it says, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
So, it is always noticed when you step out of your own life, even for just a second, to meet the need of someone else – serving another person before yourself. These moments are not for people seeing what you’re doing. Jesus even speaks out against the Pharisees when they pray, worship, or make a spectacle of their offerings. I would go so far as to say that meeting the need isn’t even solely for the other person whose need you’re meeting! When we do this, we do it too and for Jesus Himself.
A good place to start – think of the kind of person that you have needed in the past and be that person for someone else.
Some needs are more obscure and can go unnoticed. Jesus, Himself was born into obscurity, in a humble place where no one would expect it. If you’re unsure, there’s no harm in looking up the nearest food bank. Feeding people is an obvious need. But why not ask God this Christmas, “Where is the hidden need near me?”
I pray that today, this has met a need in someone. That you go looking for the hidden needs nearby, and that you have a truly wonderful and Merry Christmas!