26 April, 2011

Would I?

Saturday night honored a young man for a year of accomplishment. Friends and family gathered. She came into the room looking disheveled and unkempt. She appeared older than the crowd gathered. She was easily in her 50’s but looked older. Something wasn’t quite right with her. It was obvious her journey had been difficult. She sat alone.

As the meeting progressed, an invitation was given for those who would like to share their struggle. Silence lingered for a bit. Out of the entire crowd gathered, the young, the nice-looking, the nicely dressed...only one person spoke. The woman. She spoke of her recent struggle and the hope she now claimed. She spoke of her illness and the years of struggle. Then, she looked at the young man being honored that night and thanked him for accepting her and encouraging her. His welcome and acceptance of her had led her to a new hope.

Why would such a young man go out of his way to welcome this woman? How and why would he have shown such acceptance of her?

Sunday morning, hundreds of miles away, another young man entered an unknown church for Easter services. His clothes were not appropriate for Easter Sunday services but it was all he had. The work clothes protected him from fire and ash, which was his current duty. He appeared younger than the crowd gathered. He was in his 30’s but looked older that day. Emotionally, his heart had been recently broken and physically his body was tired and strained from fighting forest fires. It was obvious his journey had been difficult. He sat alone.

As the service ended, a woman approached him and invited him home for Easter lunch. He was a stranger to her…. a complete stranger. How could the lady have known his great need for a companionship and a home-cooked meal? How was she so brave to invite him? How did she know to love him?

Jesus was in town. A very respected local pastor invited him to have dinner in his home. It was a special invitation for those gathered and only the most influential church members were invited. But somehow one lone woman had also boldly attended and was in the dining room. She was disheveled and unkempt. She appeared more “street wise” than the others attending. She was easily in her 50’s but looked older. Something wasn’t quite right with her. It was obvious her journey had been difficult. She did not sit alone but sat at Jesus' feet and He welcomed her. He loved her, He bragged on her. (Luke 7:36-48)

Would I? Could I? Will I? Or will I judge by outward appearance and discount a person’s worth? Would I speak a word of hope into her life? Would I invite him to my home?

How have I boxed up and locked up Jesus’ love to just include my little ‘vanilla’ world?

09 April, 2011

360° View

One recent Sunday, we came in a bit late and chose seats quickly. Our daughter came in after us. She immediately, asked me, “Why are we sitting here? We don’t usually sit here. Can we move?”

"No, we’re fine", I replied.

A few minutes later, “Mom, really, this is not where we sit”.

She was distracted and I was distracted. It took me the entire service to work through not being distracted. Clearly, the message that day was lost to me. We merely sat in a different place yet she and I were completely distracted.

It’s reminded me of how easily distracted I can become… a phone call, a good book, Facebook, my favorite TV shows; they all call to me and distract my mind. I know general life issues distract me from the needs in our world because I’m so focused on the needs in my little 360° world. And recently, a bigger distraction has been revealed to me.

My son and I recently visited Texas Tech University as a possibility for his enrollment this fall. This University offers a nation-leading Center for the Study of Addition and Recovery. One evening, as I arrived to pick up our small group of young men, I came up to the Center where a large group had just dismissed from a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. The young adults were standing outside talking, laughing and visiting. I waited in our 15-passenger van and just watched the scene. It was a group of college kids. Some looked like typical college students and some looked like….well, rather radical-looking college students. There were lots of tattoos and long hair. I saw Nick. He’s tall so he’s easy to spot. Plus his long, curly hair is really easy to spot!

I thought, “Why can’t he cut his hair? Why did he get another tattoo? Yes, I know it reads, “Psalms 23” but still”….it’s so foreign to me. Here I was a southern woman, nicely coiffed and ironed, nails done, lipstick in place looking at this group of recovering addicts. This is not what I dreamed of and hoped for my son. I wanted a perfect little life with perfect little children. All of us dressed in ironed khakis, polo shirts and cute dresses and probably wearing white gloves !! This picture is NOT the real world. So yes, I caught myself being distracted by the way people look. I should have been seeing a group of recovering addicts who were celebrating the mercy of God and the fact of redemption in their lives. These people celebrate every day that they are alive and blessed! Their faith in the midst of recovery is huge and authentic and palatable.

I am SO very shallow and my son has taught me that. So often I only see the outside. Forgive me, Lord. Why can’t I see the heart of people? Why am I stuck on the outside view? A great looking outside means absolutely nothing, I KNOW that is a truth but continually find myself distracted by the external.

How very sad and sick I am. We’re all addicts because we’re all broken inside. It’s the world, my view, my image, it’s our 360° view.

I’m going to be shocked when I see Jesus because He’s not going to look like my image of Him. Again, again, again….my son…my hope…my Jesus…take the MY out of me Lord. Give me eyes to see as You see.