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“He said, “Don’t load yourselves up with equipment. Keep it simple; you are the equipment. And no luxury inns—get a modest place and be content there until you leave.” Luke 9:3-4 MSG

On the recent trip my husband and I took to Myrtle Beach, we couldn’t find a hotel.  They are a hot commodity in the middle of summer at the oceanside city. What we finally landed in was far from luxury, and it wasn’t cheap.  The motel came with flying cockroaches in the middle of the night which had my husband springing from bed to protect us, literally. I was afraid to take a shower because it was so nasty, the sink wasn’t much better.  The room was clean, we didn’t bring home any bed bugs. The swimming pool, sitting empty and desolate had actually started to come up out of the ground. I was fearful to stay there a minute longer than we had too. But the people were so nice.  I had to overcome the physical circumstances to see the people God has placed before me to love. God has reminded me thousands of times in my life, wherever I go, He is there, just like this trip.

He was there in the smile the desk clerk gave me when he saw us.  He was there when the maintenance man helped us shut our door when we couldn’t get it to shut.  He was there when the sweet cleaning lady joined in to help her co-worker. He was there in all of their faces and their smiles.  But I was challenged to see it because I was more concerned they were going to rob us. Full confession, I was afraid to leave our dogs in the room with our stuff when we left for dinner because I thought they would be gone when we got back.  I had a hard time being content in this place until we left. I have had the opportunity to stay in much nicer places over my career, but I have never been treated as well as we were at this particular motel. They were in the process of renovating it, but they had a very, very long way to go.

Here’s the point I’m trying to make, it’s not our surroundings that matter, it’s the people around us who do. Often times we think we need stuff to be able to serve people, we need to be in the right place at the right time.  But we don’t need stuff, we don’t need luxury, all we really need is a smile. When I was walking our dogs after we checked in and the kind desk clerk walked by me, all I had to do was smile. I didn’t need anything else to show him the love of Jesus.  When the cleaning lady wanted to talk for a moment, all I had to do was stop and listen. When the maintenance man went out of his way to help us, stopping what he was doing to come to our aid, all I had to do was say thank you, sincerely. Loving people doesn’t take stuff, it doesn’t take fancy places or fancy cars, it takes awareness of those around you.  Loving people means looking past the immediate circumstances and doing the right thing anyway. Smiling when they walk by, listening when they talk, thanking them for what they do, all simple ways to love people you may never see again on this side of heaven. Wherever you are, God is there. Whatever you do, let it be done in love. Keep it simple, leave the stuff at home and just love whoever God brings before you today and always.

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