I remember the feel of the little childs hand. grimy. sweaty. dirty. small. Nose running, I was sure the hand was covered in snot. I held on anyway, but not because I necessarily wanted to. Not out of love. More out of guilt. Who could refuse to withdraw your hand when it is seized so eagerly by someone so small and needy? At the same time, I was rather flattered that the child decided to latch onto me. As if I needed a dirty Kenyan child to affirm my worth. I love children, but am decidedly awkward when it comes to conversing and understanding them. I didn’t even find out if it was a girl or a boy. I would say boy, based on the face, but then again, the red cardigan and pink pants make me waver. Hair is no help in the least, since all African children have cropped heads. I’m just sad. That at the time, I was feeling inadequate, and awkward and unsure, that I let an opportunity pass to love on this little child. For some reason, I’m more afraid of being rejected by children, than by adults. I want them to think I’m fun, and interesting and yet am unsure how to make myself more approachable. After all, Jesus loved all the little children, and was completely himself around them. Delighting in them, loving on them. Making them love him in return. That’s what I want. A free and effortless love that flows out from a giving heart.
My mind is choppy from the turbulence of sin. Past regrets speak loudly to me of my spiritual inadequacy. Guilt shouts to me of my hypocrisy. Double-mindedness drives me forward one moment and backward the next.
sin just bubbles up out of us. Icky and oozing, spilling over unintentionally hurting people. It about never fails to hurt the people we love the most. How does that happen? The greater the love, the greater the room for hurt. That’s what love is. A potential for hurt. You open yourself to love and you’re also opening yourself up to the greatest loss, the greatest pain. It’s nearly a free for all. Love has to be watched over, and guarded.
“Guard your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”
Why do I always think things will just happen and develop and evolve on their own? You have to work for it. You have to guard it. You have to fight. So many petty distractions are everywhere, seeking an opportunity to tear you down.
My heart with the psalmist cries out.
“Would you create in me, a clean heart oh God. Restore in me the joy of my salvation. Wash me white as snow, and I will be made whole.”
I cannot finagle a way to live this life on my own. I’ve tried, and failed miserably.
All I need is You, Lord.
“The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” Zephaniah 3.17
it struck me. he is mighty to save. to save a pathetic, dirty, selfish prig of a human. and save me from what? from death, yes. from being punished as i deserve. yes. from the devil, yes. and even from, and this just got to me. even from myself. he saved, is saving, and will save me, from myself. he is strong and gracious and delivers me from the slough of despond i’ve willingly walked right into. perhaps not knowingly. but willingly.
where does such grace come from? why me??
why would he choose to love me as the person i was, the person i am, the many persons i may become? he doesn’t turn his face away and hide when i act like a confused, wayward, smelly stupid cross-eyed sheep. instead he quiets me with his love, tenderly leads me back to his fold, and never gives up on little annoying me.
his affection is constant. his grace is deep. his love is strong.
i do not deserve it.
I think Jesus is saying “It’s okay.” If he was married, wouldn’t that make all the singles feel even worse than they already do? Without a shadow of a doubt, they would be looking frantically for a spouse, trying to find their identity in someone else. We may still do that, of course. It seems sometimes we can’t help it. But it dawned on me that if Jesus were married, it would shift our whole entire view of marriage. Instead, we see Him. Just Him. If Jesus were married, I would say, “Jesus, you want me to follow you and emulate you, but I can’t! Because I’m not married!” He leaves no room for excuse. There is just Him. And everyone can follow, no one is left out.
Cleaning off my shelf last week, I found it. A babys ear. I had forgotten about the seashell, and why I had it, but now it all came flooding back to me. I could just see Jim Wright, with his intense blue eyes blazing behind his glasses, his silver hair standing on end while he marched up and down the aisles full of desks. The babys ear was a symbol to him. A reminder to listen. To wait for the still, small voice which belongs to God. I look at the small, white shell, thinking. I have not been listening very much lately. And by very much, I mean, hardly at all. Because all those worship songs are wrong. The ones about it being easy to trust and listen to God when your life is going great. I don’t know who I trust during the great times in my life, but I’m pretty sure it’s not God. Food is just there. Relationships just happen. Of course you have shelter and an abundance of what you need. Why shouldn’t you? And then you hit rock bottom again. You’re left with questions and doubts, and a seashell. Your life is going great when it suddenly gets messy and you wonder why and look back and realise. oh. I haven’t been listening. I’ve been trying to accomplish my own goals at my own speed. My own wish is my command. Well hello. No wonder God wants your attention. Two years later, the babys ear is still doing what Jim Wright, (and maybe God?) intended it to do. Tells me to listen. Tells me who is really in control.Now I have the babys ear right out where I will see it every day. It’s my reminder. To listen. To be still. To wait. To make sure my ears and the eyes of my heart are wide open.