I look down at my feet and i recall how many shoes are in my closet. I remember how many shirts, pants and clean sets of clothes i have. I recall that amazing hot shower i took this morning as i scrubbed my entire body with soap. I look at how clean my hands are and lightly smell my pleasing scent as it lifts off of my shirt. And i'm ashamed when i recall the ways that i sometimes greet people with consternation on my face and a heart that wonders, "what do they want?".
I can't help but ask, "Why me, God?" Why was i blessed with the things i have and these people given so much less? Why is life so difficult for some and yet others are given so much?
When my mind wanders through these questions i try to ground myself in the life of Jesus. I try to recall His words and actions and how they can reflect on some of my thoughts.
As i continue to look around the room in Eastleigh and see these faces, i couldn't help but to imagine how much Jesus loves them. I kept imagining Jesus taking the young children into his lap, tears streaming down his face, with a large, beaming smile as he greets them and hugs them. I see Jesus binding their feet, healing their wounds and smiling as he greets them and laughs with them. i see Jesus embracing worship as he dances and claps with them as they sing songs about God's love, power and forgiveness. I see Jesus lovingly give out chai and cookies making sure everyone receives and no one leaves hungry.
And then my thoughts drift again to a darker place. For some reason thoughts of Ebola jump into my mind. What would happen to these people if Kenya had an outbreak of Ebola? My thoughts are that not many of them would have a chance to survive? Would anyone even care if they died?
Jesus would!! The gospel writer Matthew recorded Jesus' words when he said this in the Sermon on the Mount:
That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear? These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today" (Matt. 6:25-34).They (people) are more valuable to God than any of us could ever imagine. In fact, God knows every hair on their head, every pain on their body and every hurt in their soul. I or you or the world might not care about what happens to these people but i know God does. In fact, He cares so much that He sent His Son to die for their sins!
Just the other day, I saw a review for the upcoming "Left Behind" movie, based on the popular book series about the end times. For some reason that got me to thinking about the "rapture", one of the primary focuses of that book series and movie. First off, the word rapture is never used in the Bible, but in context that word comes from a passage in 1 Thess. 4:17 that talks about being "caught up" with the Lord in the air. Secondly, the rapture is not a biblical teaching . . . that those who have been righteous are miraculously disappeared from this sinful world into a heavenly home with their father. Has God ever miraculously removed his people from struggle and tribulation in the world to live in a place with Him? I mean think of some of the great heroes in the bible and reflect on their stories. Did God remove Moses from his terrible showdown with the Pharoah because it was too hard? Did God disappear Esther to save her from having to appear before the king? Did God call Jonah home to be with him because he balked at having to speak to the hated Assyrians? The list could go on and on . . .
My point instead is that God comes down to walk with us through the valleys. That God carries us through the hard times when the hard times kick us in the seat of the pants! When things seem their darkest, God is there! When there seems to be no other option or choice, God is always listening! When we are at wits end with no where to turn, God reminds us of His love! God seeks to grow us through those hard times to make us more faithful and especially to make us more reliant on Him.
And now i circle back around to these street guys in Eastleigh. God walks with them every day. God sees their hurt, their struggles and their addiction and he longs to shower them with his love. He knows their thoughts and desires and he yearns to comfort and guide them. He does it through the lives of faithful Christians who walk among these people every day. People who greet and smile at them. People who bring them food and encouragement. People who bring them first aid to bind up their wounds and heal their hurts. People who come with words of encouragement to teach them about the One who can save their soul. I know because i saw them in Eastleigh today! I know because i saw the face of Jesus in them!
Will you be the face of Jesus for someone today? Will you find someone to help? To love? To serve? Can you be the hands and feet of those who bring the good news, that the Apostle Paul was talking about in Romans 10:14-15? My prayer for you today is that you will see the hurt around you and it will call you to action! That the spirit of Jesus will move in you today so that you can help someone to see the love that their father has for them!