Steve’s Devotional – A Soft Place
JULY 2, 2015
There are many lessons to be drawn from the story of Jesus’ visit to the home of Mary and Martha as it is recorded in Luke 10, but one I find of particular interest is the fact that even our Lord needed a “soft place” in his life. And this home was that place. It was where he stopped to rest before his ordeal on the cross. What does that say to us? It says that if Jesus needed those soft places and times of rest from the harshness and the pressures of life, then we also need those places and times in our lives.
I believe that one of the most subtle dangers Christians face is the falsehood that commitment precludes soft places. “After all, the world is going to hell in a hand basket! We have plans and programs and things to do for God. We’re going to die, and there’s so little time. We don’t have time for soft places.” That’s just not true. I believe this account in Luke 10 was included in Scripture so we might know that Jesus himself needed soft places. And if he needed them, we do too.
Have you ever been in somebody’s home where you felt comfortable enough to take your shoes off? Very few people have this gift of hospitality. I travel a lot, and often I stay in people’s homes. It can be difficult sometimes because I have to be the “Reverend” and be “spiritual” when I’m in those kinds of homes. But sometimes, in a serendipitous way, I’ll come into somebody’s home and feel like I can sit down in an easy chair, take my shoes off, and even fall asleep as they talk, and it’s okay. That’s a very precious gift some Christians have. That’s a soft place. It’s very rare and very valuable.
Have you ever had a friend with whom you didn’t have to pretend? A friend before whom you can weep if you feel like it, or let your strongest emotions show and he or she wouldn’t be shocked? That’s a soft place too.
Or have you ever given your all, only to find yourself rejected and alone? Then a friend would call and say, “I know it cost you dearly to take that stand, and I know that many people don’t understand. But I want you to know that I understand, and I’m praying for you, and I’m standing with you.” That’s a soft place, and oh, how good it feels.
Both of our daughters called from college quite often, and it’s interesting to notice that whenever I answered the phone, each would say, “Hi, Dad, let me tell you what I learned in class today.” We would talk for a few minutes and then each would ask, “Is Mom there?” I would give the phone to Anna. Then, for the next hour or two, they would talk. Anna would be laughing and crying and they’d both have a wonderful time. As I watched this phenomenon, I realized that Anna was the soft place in our home, and that alone makes her very valuable.
Now what am I saying? It’s the church’s responsibility, corporately and individually, to be a soft place for one another. And when we cease to be that soft place, then something essential that ought to be present in the church is lost. We’re called to be people who create soft places. There are two kinds of people in the world: those who make others great, and those who diminish others. Our business as believers is to create soft places where people can become great.
As you a soft place for somebody? Or do you diminish them? I’ve seen Christians do that. A new believer is too excited about discovering Jesus and comes skipping into church and somebody warns, “Stop skipping. We’re spiritual in this place!” And all of a sudden, the joyous stanza of God’s song is stomped into the dirt by someone who didn’t understand that the church is supposed to be a soft place for the people of God.
Our Lord needed soft places, and you do, and I do too.
Time to Draw Away
Read 1 Kings 17:8-24 & 1 John 3:16-18
Are you a soft place for someone? Do you have someone who is a soft place for you? As believers and as the church, this is our calling. Not only that. It is a gift from God.