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Previous Message From Virtual Church

Beta Test For Mr. Smith

Mr. Smith was burned out. After years in his profession he had lost heart to do even the most menial of people-oriented tasks. In some professions, those who serve within the profession speak about a calling to do various kinds of work. For Mr. Smith, the call had long been forgotten. He could not remember anything about what got him into the profession in the first place. Every day was now a chore of unending boredom and a fight to keep his mind alive. Thoughts about his true intentions and his motivation to serve others brought no feeling. His spiritual life had dried up into nothing. Everything was now a formality. He loathed doing normal tasks of serving, a time when persons in people-oriented professions can do some of their best work. His heart was definitely not in the calling to his present profession.

Mr. Smith had, for some time, considered other career options. He had been scanning the help wanted ads but found nothing of interest. On day in his local newspaper there appeared an ad for persons to do beta testing for new software. Mr. Smith was computer savvy and found the idea of being a beta tester to be intriguing. He responded to the ad by email and waited for a response.

A few days later he received a phone call in his office from the E-max Software Company. The caller informed Mr. Smith that E-max was looking for someone to beta test new software, particularly persons in people-oriented professions. The caller asked Mr. Smith’s help to beta test a new product. Mr. Smith was to be paid a fee for his services. Mr. Smith agreed to begin testing the software sent to him, although he thought it odd no resume was required.

Within two days Express Delivery delivered a package containing the first software CD from E-max. Although Mr. Smith was behind in preparing for his next presentation, he pushed the presentation preparation task aside in favor of his new beta testing effort.

Mr. Smith placed the CD from E-max in the CD drive and the program booted up requesting installation on his hard drive. Mr. Smith clicked on the familiar OK button and the software installed itself within a few minutes. On the monitor came a request for his zip code. Mr. Smith noted his modem was unplugged and started to plug his modem in but thought he would type in his zip code first. Mr. Smith thought this part of the program was some kind of registration requirement and thought he would have to plug in his modem to register the software. However, there was no registration request. What happened next was a shock. There appeared on the monitor a list of all the people Mr. Smith had ever known in his life. From the time he was a toddler to the present day, all the names of all the people he had known were listed on the screen. There were several pages of names. Names of people were listed from his grade school, high school, college, post-graduate work, and people in the various groups he served. There was a small message box at the bottom of the screen that said “click on a name.” Mr. Smith saw the name of Esther Johnson. Esther was a nursing home resident who was someone he had visited about three months ago. Esther was a friend of someone in his present group and he drudgingly made the visit to the nursing home as a favor to Esther’s friend. His visit with the women was not long. Out-of-office visits with people in need were now routine and done without any heart, thought, or feeling. Mr. Smith clicked on Esther’s name and in a second, images began to appear on his monitor. Mr. Smith could see Esther, he could see her heart, he could see her spirit, and he could see her soul. He could see her heart breaking from loneliness. He could see how the nursing home staff coldly treated her only as a thing without making any personal connection to her. He could see Satan hacking away at her heart, soul, and spirit by trying to get her to doubt there was a God. He could see her physical pain and suffering. For the first time in ages, Mr. Smith was moved. The images disappeared and the list of names appeared again with the same message box at the bottom of the screen telling Mr. Smith to click on a name.

With his heart still hurting at seeing the images of Esther, Mr. Smith clicked on the name of Bill Patterson. Bill was a solid member of Mr. Smith’s group. Bill was a board member on various social and religious groups, volunteered for every church function, and faithfully attended every church service with Bill’s wife and children. What Mr. Smith saw was Bill Patterson at home and at work. Mr. Smith saw Bill’s wife turn into an evil person at home. Bill’s wife was a person full of anger and wrath who vented the anger at Bill in various ways. Mr. Smith also saw Bill Patterson at work. Mr. Smith could see Bill’s temptation at wanting real companionship with the women in Bill’s office. On the screen Mr. Smith could see Satan tearing up the heart of Bill Patterson with temptations. Mr. Smith could see that Bill Patterson consistently resisted these temptations in favor of doing God’s will and in favor of keeping his family in tact. On the screen was Bill’s love for his children, his respect for his wife, his holy attitude toward marriage, and Bill’s love for Christ. On the screen Mr. Smith could see the pain and suffering in Bill’s heart as a result of his wife’s anger and Bill’s loneliness. Mr. Smith’s heart broke as he saw at the images on the screen.

The images of Bill Smith faded away and on the screen again came the list of names. On the list was a list of persons who were listed as Name Unknown. In his brokenness, and for reasons he could not articulate, Mr. Smith clicked on one of the persons listed as Name Unknown. On the screen was an image of a homeless man. The homeless man a few months ago had knocked on the door of Mr. Smith’s office asking for food. Mr. Smith abruptly said “Sorry, we don’t have anything here. Try the mission downtown. They give out free meals in the evening.” Images of the homeless man appeared on the screen. On the screen were images of the homeless man as a little boy living on the streets, living in alleys, and afraid to go home at night for fear his mother and father would beat him and molest him. On the screen Mr. Smith could see Satan devastating the boy’s heart and soul. On the screen Mr. Smith could see the boy’s spirit being destroyed as a teenager by Satan’s use of drugs and alcohol against the youth. On the screen was the homeless man going to prison and the abuse the man suffered in prison. On the screen was the devastated heart of the homeless man seeking food at Mr. Smith’s door. Mr. Smith felt the devastation. Mr. Smith felt the emptiness. Mr. Smith felt the physical hunger, the spiritual hunger, and the hopelessness of the man he had turned away.

Mr. Smith turned away from his computer. Mr. Smith doubled over in his chair from the devastation he had seen on his monitor and he soon fell out of his chair and onto his knees from the burdens he felt. Mr. Smith was on his knees because of the burdens of others. Mr. Smith was on his knees because he had been blind to the hearts and lives of others. Mr. Smith could now see others as they really are rather than as Mr. Smith wanted them to be. Never before had he seen the hearts of others like he saw them now… Never before had he let himself see the lives of others like he saw them now… On his knees, Mr. Smith wept with a broken heart. He wept with a broken heart for others…something that had never happened before. As he wept, Mr. Smith prayed for others in a way he never prayed before. As he wept, Mr. Smith prayed that God would give him a new heart, a new mission, a new service, and a new life grounded in God’s love and call to serve others. On the floor, on his knees before God, Mr. Smith experienced a new resolve. He did not experience a new heart, a new mission, a new ministry, or a new life, but he did experience a new resolve to see others as they really were. Mr. Smith no longer thought about leaving his profession. Mr. Smith now thought more about what he could do for others than about what he was missing.

Mr. Smith looked back at his computer, but saw no shipping box sitting on top of the CPU where he had placed the box. He looked at the screen but saw no list of names. He pushed the button on his CD drive and as the drive door opened, he saw no CD from E-max Software. He searched through a pile of papers on his desk to find the ad for E-max, and upon finding the newspaper, he found no ad for a beta tester circled in red.

For several hours Mr. Smith thought and prayed. The next day he visited with Esther, visited with Bill Patterson at work, and met with the homeless man who he found on the street near the homeless mission downtown. As the days passed by, Mr. Smith began to see the heart of the people in his group. He began to see their struggles. He began to see they were like sheep without a shepherd. As the days passed by, Mr. Smith began to experience a new heart, a new mission, a new calling, and a new life because he began to see the hearts of others.

Matthew 9:36 (NIV)  

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Mark 6:34 (NIV)  

When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

Matthew 14:14 (NIV)  

When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

Matthew 15:32 (NIV)  

Jesus called his disciples to him and said, "I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way."

Matthew 20:34 (NIV)  

Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.

Mark 1:41 (NIV)  

Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!"

Are we not all supposed to have His compassion? Are we not all supposed to see others as He sees them?

Personal or company names appearing in this story are facetious. Any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental.

This story first appeared in September 2004, in the Virtual Church web site at http://www.findthepower.com

 

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Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (RSV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Copyright © 1952 [2nd edition, 1971] by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Shepherd's Care Ministries author and webmaster, Rev. Patrick Kelly, is affiliated through ministerial ordination with Church of God Ministries, Anderson IN 46018