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Serving as Bridges

The Lord desires to take the ordinary things that we say and do in order to use them as bridges in the lives of others to take them from where they are to where He wants them to be.
by Lorraine E. Espenhain | Source: Catholic.net

Now bands from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, "If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy." [2 Ki 5:2-3].

In this particular story, we read about a man named Naaman, who was the commander of the Aramean army. Naaman was highly regarded by the King of Aram and had tremendous influence with him because he was victorious in all of the battles he fought for the king. Although he was a valiant soldier who enjoyed great success and favor with the king, Naaman had one dark, sinister cloud hanging over his life; he had leprosy.

Sometime earlier, Aramean bands had invaded Israel and taken captive a young girl who was brought to the country of Aram to serve Naaman’s wife. In contrast to Naaman’s greatness was this little captive girl who, although forcibly taken away from her country in order to live far away from the home and the family she loved, believed in God and was filled with faith in Him.

This young girl had a great desire to see her master Naaman healed. The same grace of God that gave her joy and faith in her captivity, as well as concern for others, also gave her the strength to be a bold witness for Him, and the Lord was pleased to use her testimony. Approaching Naaman’s wife one day, she boldly declared, "If only my master would see the prophet [Elisha] who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy." Her faith was not in Elisha the prophet, but in the God of Israel, whom Elisha represented.

Naaman’s wife repeated the servant girl’s words to her husband, who then went to Israel, found Elisha, came to personal faith in the One True God, and received his healing from God.

Whenever this story is read, attention is often given to Naaman, the Gentile who had faith to believe in the God of Israel for healing, or the prophet Elisha, who was used by God to bring about that miraculous healing. But I wonder how many often taken the time to reflect on how God graciously used the young Israelite girl who served Naaman’s wife? I wonder if it would surprise us to know that many times He desires to use us in the same way.

The Israelite slave girl was divinely used as a bridge in Naaman’s life to get him from where he was (spiritually dead and afflicted with leprosy) to where God wanted him to be (spiritually alive and physically healed). Because she had tremendous faith in God, as well as love and concern for others, she wasn’t afraid to step out and be used  by Him in this capacity. As a result, a life was impacted for eternity.

In the same way, the Lord often desires to take the ordinary things that we may say or do in order to use them as that same bridge in the lives of our children, neighbors, co-workers, family members, or whomever else He may send in our path. If we are not sensitive to the Spirit’s prompting and leading in our lives, we may miss out on the opportunity God was giving us to be used by Him as that bridge.

Did somebody ever mention something to you that was ultimately used by God to influence and impact your life in a tremendous way? They merely mentioned something in passing, but it was divinely used by God as a bridge to get you from where you were to where He wanted you to be. Perhaps they mentioned a book, magazine article, or verse of Scripture to you. Perhaps they mentioned to you a story they’d read, a ministry that was available at their church, or even a job opening that they’d seen. Whatever it was, you listened and God used it. If we look back, we’ll be surprised to see just how many bridges and ‘middlemen’ God has used in order to carry out His will and purpose in our lives.

What if the young servant girl had decided to mind her own business and keep silent? What if she had allowed the evil one to play games with her mind by convincing her that the great and mighty Naaman would never listen to the words of an insignificant slave? I wonder how many times we may have talked or reasoned ourselves out of being used mightily by God through a simple word or deed because to us, it was insignificant. I wonder how often our own absorption with self or our overloaded schedules have prevented us from serving as a divinely constructed bridge in the life of another. Many of us are so caught up with our own problems and needs that we can’t even recognize them in others.

If we don’t take the time to notice, care, or be involved in other people’s lives, we will miss opportunities God is giving us to be used as instruments in His hand.

Pass on that information, mention that book, or forward that e-mail. Extend that invitation, offer that ride, or purchase that gift. Share that story, send that card, or start up that ministry. God wants to use us! He is looking for bridges to be used in the lives of people who, like Naaman, are desperate for spiritual, emotional, and physical healing.

If you feel a prompting, don’t brush it off. If a thought comes to you to do something for another person, do it, for it just might be the very thing God uses to make a major impact in that individual’s life. Only eternity will reveal how many times we served as bridges and middlemen in other people’s lives and never even knew it. It will also reveal how many times God desired to use us as that bridge but we failed to take notice or to make ourselves available.

Beware of "what ifs," for Satan will surely use them to keep us from being used as bridges in other people’s lives.

I want to share with you how God used a bridge in my own life in order to take me and my household from where we were to where He wanted us to be.

I have always been fascinated with large families. If I find a book about a large family, I’ll buy it. If I discover a website about large families, I’ll add it to my List of Favorites. Reading about them and learning how they operate is just something that I’ve always enjoyed. Simply put, large families inspire me.

One day, while searching the bookstore at www.Amazon.com., I came across a book entitled Better By The Dozen, Plus Two, which was written by James and Kathleen Littleton. When I learned that it was a book about a couple who had 14 living children, into the cyber shopping cart it went. My credit card number was cheerfully given, the book was packed and shipped, and one week later, I found myself curled up in my rocking chair and lost in the wonderful world of this large Irish Catholic family.

To my surprise, the book wasn’t about the usual subjects discussed in ‘large family’ books, such as meal preparation, recipes, laundry schedules, household duties, etc. Largely, it was about a Catholic family who desired to live out Catholic values and how they went about achieving this in their daily lives.

At this time, I was away from the Catholic Church. Although I had been raised as a Catholic, I married a Protestant at the age of 22 and left the Catholic Church. My husband and I began attending different Protestant churches over the years, but we never stayed in any of them for too long because we never felt like we belonged there. We always felt out of place and that something was missing. Eventually, we stopped going to church all together and just stayed home. We would read our Bibles and pray, but as far as we were concerned, church membership was over for us. Belonging to a church seemed to work out for others, but for us it never worked out. We had resigned ourselves to the fact that for us, a loving and caring church family was just not meant to be so we simply gave up, left the Protestant churches for good, and stayed home for the next ten years.

As I began to read the Littletons’ book, God used it to kindle something in my heart, and I found myself considering returning to the Catholic Church. Eventually, I started going to Mass by myself. After a few weeks, I took my daughter with me. At night, I would read portions of the Littletons’ book to my husband, and to my surprise, he would listen. Soon, he started attending Mass with me, and he loved it. This in itself was a sheer act of God, for my husband’s heart regarding church attendance, membership, and ‘organized religion’ was even harder than mine had been. My husband then decided that he wanted to become Catholic, and one year later, he and my daughter were received into the Roman Catholic Church.

I sent an e-mail to James Littleton thanking him for his book and mentioned to him how God had used it, not only to bring me back into the Catholic Church, but my husband and daughter as well. We e-mailed each other back and forth a few times, and he eventually mentioned that Catholic.net was a website that was looking for volunteers to write. Since I loved to write and teach the Bible, I got in contact with one of the managers at the website, offered my services, and a wonderful ministry was opened up for me. All of these wonderful things occurred because somebody was willing to serve as God’s bridge in my life and the lives of my husband and daughter.

What if James and Kathleen Littleton had decided not to write their book? What if the devil had deceived them into believing that nobody would read it, so why bother putting in the time and effort? What if they had never taken the time to respond to my e-mail when I wrote to them? What if James Littleton had decided not even to mention Catholic.net that day? But the Littletons did write that book, they did respond to my e-mail, and they did mention Catholic.net. A door for ministry was opened up to me, enabling me to teach others the things which God was teaching me. Because the Littletons made themselves available to God, they were used mightily by Him to serve as a bridge bringing a family from where they were to where God wanted them to be.

God needs bridges. He needs middlemen. Are we willing to follow the example of the Israelite slave girl by not being afraid or too busy to step out and be used as instruments in other people’s lives?

I want to encourage you to look around you and see the opportunities before you. God desires to use you as a bridge in the life of others, and He will be pleased to use your simple words or deeds, just as He was pleased to use the words of the Israelite servant girl. Are you willing to be used? Am I?

May God give us the grace and courage to step out of ourselves and into the lives of others that we might be used by Him to take souls from where they presently are...

...to where He wants them to be.

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