I have walked on Las Ramblas.
My feet have traversed the location in Barcelona, Spain where evil struck again most recently. Las Ramblas is not just some far off, unrelated destination for me. It's a place I know.
I've pressed through the masses crowding that sidewalk. My eyes have swept over the buildings, the art work, the abundant colors. My ears have processed and tried to decipher the blaring noises as well as the flutter of leaves on the numerous trees. My nose has been delighted by the countless fragrances of foods provided by street vendors and restaurants lining the way. I've handled delicate scarves and heavy post cards at the tourist shops. I even selected a pearl ring at a shop on Las Ramblas.
When Frank called down to my office yesterday and told me of the most recent terror attack, my mind saw faces, not a dot on a map.
I traveled to Barcelona two summers ago with a teaching team. We had been invited by friends who pastor an amazing international church right in the heart of the city. (International Church Barcelona.) Our main purpose was to bring encouragement to the ladies of their congregation by teaching at a retreat.
But we also shared at Bible studies, home groups, luncheons, the main church service and even once in a park. One of my more memorable opportunities involved a short taxi ride to a winding alley where we walked for twenty minutes then climbed five flights of stairs to meet with the three couples waiting for us. Whew! Not for the faint of heart but definitely rewarding.
Our experience in Barcelona left us with friends we'll cherish for years to come and memories that will take a long time to fade. The pastor said that we added value to the lives we encountered. Our message brought hope and peace. While we challenged them to walk close to the Father in obedience, we also reminded them of His perfect love for each individual as well as the world.
Following religion or man made rules can kill. But relationship with Christ brings LIFE - Abundant Life!
One of my favorite passages seems so timely today:
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly!" John 10:10 (ESV)
Yes, let's pray for the individuals and families impacted by this tragedy but put action to your prayers. Find someone who needs a word of encouragement. Offer forgiveness or a gift of joy. Reach out with a hand of hope to a person who crosses your path.
It's a proven fact, when you add value to another you actually enrich your own life.
I choose to add LIFE today. I'm watching for an opportunity to add value somewhere. Join me, won't you?
I'd love to hear about your experience.