God's Love At The Outer Edge

June 25, 2018
by Diane Eaton

It was an ordinary thing to do, to play Jesus loves me on the piano, but the effect wasn't ordinary that day. I was at a drop-in centre where the less fortunate come for lunch and companionship. As usual, I heard heart-wrenching stories — like the one from the woman across the table.

When I showed interest in her, she burst into tears. She got strangely absorbed in her cell phone and eventually pulled up a cat photo. Then, she revealed the tragedy: Her beloved cat had been confiscated by the authorities. Through her sobs, she said, "I couldn't pay the vet bill; I didn't have money for the medicine." I remarked, "The cat has been your friend, hasn't it?" She nodded.

At first, I felt angry with the authorities for not simply covering the cost and easing her pain. But as I listened more, I realized that she lacked basic living skills for everyday life. For such folk, any issue can become a devastating crisis. They can't figure out what to do.

Later, I went to the piano and quietly played hymns. When I played Jesus loves me, the tearful woman came and started singing. Others joined in. Then, the cook started singing. Soon, lovely singing filled the room; a calm peace flooded the place. Afterwards, a different woman, who had shared upsets with me, said, "When I heard Jesus loves me on the piano, I suddenly felt a huge load lift off of me. And I know Jesus is with me. I know He can help me. Without Him, I couldn't make it through one single day." And we hugged.

At this centre, all kinds of people hang out: addicts, released prisoners, the mentally or physically compromised, those who have lost well-earned fortunes, LGBTQ folk, the unemployed, and others. Here's where even faint remnants of past Christian experience, like old hymns, can have exhilarating power — even in this secular association. In such places, at the outer edge of society, much human potential lurks beneath the tragedy of societal brokenness, waiting to be awakened.

God can do mighty things at the outer edge. Historically, every great renewal in the church began at the outer edge of the mainstream church, not normally in the halls of power and authority. That's because God's redemptive love, like water, flows along the lowest places. Jesus said:

Mark 2:17b – It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. (NIV)

To be sure, no place is lower than the experience of our wretched sinfulness in its naked truth, shielded by our fineries, good deeds, and righteous illusions. And it's here, in the lowest of the lowest places, where the best of human potential has germinated. Here has been the beginnings of massive social and political reforms, great strides in education, art, music, literature, and untold blessings to countless people around the world. Still today, spiritual awakening can make a better civilization — of astronomical proportions.

Prayer: Lord, we long for Your redemptive love to become a mighty river flowing through the channels of our society — again — through humbled sinners whole-heartedly seeking You. Amen.

About the author:

Diane Eaton <d.eaton@bmts.com>
Paisley, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thanks for the encouragement, Diane.


    Thanks Diane for sharing this experience with us. Blessings.


    I didn’t know you did that! That’s pretty amazing! Thanks for sharing.


    Thank you Diane. The Holy Spirit moves in mysterious and oftentimes against the “norm” of man-made religions.


    Good morning, Diane,
    Your story was very inspiring! May God continue to bless you in the very important work you do!


    Redemptive love, like water, flows through the lowest places. Lovely image.
    Thank you. I have always been impressed by the power of music. Toes still move to the beat long after legs can dance.


    Hello Diane
    This is beautiful. thank you. That song, Jesus Loves Me is still effective today in lives who may not be on the right path at this moment, but that song from the past still has a place in their hearts.
    God bless, your experience that day is remarkable, great you were there!!!
    God bless.


    Dear Diane,
    MY PRAYER FOR YOU: May God continually and mightily empower you to sing “Jesus Loves Me” and to quote the simplest and most profound of scriptures of the Bible with those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, May they be saved and filled.
    Keep writing too.


    Thanks for a good word today Diane. I found working as a chaplain in various nursing homes l heard many heartbreaking stories too, but it was also amazing how the hymn sings worked miracles in the hearts of those who were so confused, sorrowful or lonely.
    I’m glad your hymn playing on the piano blessed so many that day. Indeed, God is good.
    Blessings.


    Dear Diane:
    Thank you so much for this extremely important devotional. I know you and I are on the same page regarding God’s love of humanity.
    Personally, I have chosen to not cross over to the U.S. and visit my family until the children and parents are reunited at the Mexican border. I also work with those adults who are physically and mentally challenged.
    A group of my church friends went to a restaurant in Hamilton that gives all the money they earn to the poor and food banks and when those who are poor come in to eat they reach into the “button jar” for five buttons and then they use these as money to pay for their meals so that they can feel that they have paid for their food.
    As a renter, I have experienced bullying and threats to make me move out so that the owners can charge outrageous amounts of money to whoever moves in. I am standing my ground and have the Landlord and Tenants Board on my side.
    God bless you Diane as you continue with all your wonderful work.


    Thank you, Diane, for sharing this moving and powerful story! Your image of God’s love, as water flowing, is so poignant and true. The Lord is indeed working there in your midst.
    God bless you all!

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