I See You. You Matter.
by Cindy Bultema
The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. Acts 16:14
Twenty years ago, my life was a red-hot mess.
I attempted to numb childhood hurts and rejection with anything and everything — food, men, shopping, alcohol, drugs. You name it, I tried it. But nothing worked.
My wounds screamed falsehoods: I wasn’t good enough or pretty enough or thin enough. Soon the police were involved, threatening to take away my son. My life was a disaster, and I didn’t know what to do.
So in the midst of my mess, I called Carole, a regular customer at the restaurant where I worked. I didn’t know her well, but there was something different about her. While other customers looked for a refill of coffee, read newspapers, or focused on their own problems, Carole looked at me. Something in her eyes and smile said: I see you. You matter. You are not alone.
That day, Carole listened to my story and then spoke four simple words: “Cindy, you need Jesus.”
Since I’d tried everything the world had to offer and still felt empty inside, I figured I didn’t have anything to lose. On July 26, 1996, I invited Jesus Christ to take control of my life.
Everything changed for me at that moment, starting with Carole. She noticed this lost girl and introduced me to the One who opens His arms wide — no matter the size or scope of the mess.
Today, my life gives testament to the fact that no one is too far gone from God’s amazing grace. This former drug addict now leads a global ministry focused on telling girls about God’s amazing love.
But what if Carole had been too busy or distracted? What if she’d looked away?
The Apostle Paul also knew the power of seeing others — not just as who they were, but who they could be. Paul understood the transforming power of Jesus, which made him the perfect ambassador to share God’s love and light everywhere he went.
In Acts 16, as Paul passed through Macedonia, he took time to see Lydia and her friends sitting by the river.
Lydia was a successful business owner. But selling purple cloth didn’t fill the void as she searched for spiritual purpose and potential. All the money and connections couldn’t satisfy her deepest need for love and belonging.
That day on the riverbank, though, everything changed.
Three ambassadors of God sought His lost children. I bet Paul, Silas and Luke were gentle in their demeanor. I bet they smiled and made eye contact that said: I see you. You matter. You are not alone.
The Bible tells us the three men did not ignore the women sharing the scenic riverbank with them. (Acts 16:13)
Paul stopped. Sat. Shared. Unintimidated by the fact that not one single person for miles around believed in Jesus Christ. Not one.
Then there was a miracle on the fishy-smelling, breezy shore. One of God’s lost girls was found! … The Lord opened [Lydia’s] heart to respond to Paul’s message (Acts 16:14). She listened, and her heart was opened to the Good News of Jesus.
Because Paul and his friends looked up from their lives and really saw Lydia, she was saved. In fact, she was the first European convert in all of history. Today, all over Europe, Lydia’s spiritual descendants praise the name of the One who notices every lost daughter and son.
What about you, friend? How often do you look up and really notice people God places in your life? How might you break out of your comfort zone and engage with someone? Let’s remember: We might be the difference between someone being lost and being found.
Dear God, I acknowledge You as the God who sees me. You know me and understand me when no one else does. Forgive me for the times I’ve missed girls and boys, women and men, here, near and far who need Jesus. Give me Your eyes and heart to seek the lost and show them Jesus and His love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
If you need a tangible reminder to see people through lenses of love and glasses of grace, purchase LOVED. Heart Sunglasses for you and girl here. Enjoy the sun with style and remember that you are seen, known, and so very LOVED.
If you’re looking for ways to live for God in a sin-soaked world and handle each situation with grace, you’ll appreciate Live Full Walk Free: Set Apart in a Sin-Soaked World by Cindy Bultema. This journey of 1 Corinthians touches on themes of identity, unity, purpose and purity to show how believers today can navigate through a wayward and confused culture.
Cindy Bultema is the Executive Director of GEMS Girls’ Clubs and has served in ministry for over 20 years. She is passionate about reaching girls and women with the life-changing message of Jesus. Cindy lives in West Michigan with her husband and their four children. When she’s not running her full household, you can find Cindy walking her two dogs, meeting a friend for coffee, attending her son’s hockey games, or trying to figure out what’s for dinner.
© 2020 by Cindy Bultema for GEMS Girls’ Clubs. All rights reserved.