Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Meeting People in their Messes

Christmas is dawned a new year...and yet I cannot shake the theme that ran through my head during the entire advent season. Images of what a true manger looked like coupled with the mental picture of Christ bent over washing His disciples feet created a running thought of Jesus coming down to meet us in our messes. As if the humility of the Christ child lying in a dirty feeding trough isn't enough, we then see Him dwelling with fishermen, prostitutes, and homeless people. None of these were privy to regular bathing and clean fingernails. When He healed the sick He chose not just to speak the words, but to touch them..and His touch was what drove deep beyond the healing of their bodies and healed their lonely souls. Now contrast that with today's culture where super sized bottles of Germ-X are on every counter in every store, bathroom, and size. They are even sold in travel size containers with handy accessories that allow us to ward off illness in style! I'll be the first one to laugh at myself with how I practically bathe my children and myself in it every time we go to the grocery store. I'm that crazy mother yelling "no don't lick that!" and "Olivia don't touch your lips so much!". Shamefully I am also the one who sees a sick friend and rather than reaching out, I run the other way and throw a "get well soon" over my shoulder to them. Funny...Jesus came to meet us in our messes and I spend my time avoiding them. And it doesn't end with illness...what is the natural instinct when we hear that a husband or wife has been unfaithful? We might have pity on the spouse that was cheated on, but what about the one who created the mess? Or what about the person in church who we avoid at all costs because they don't understand boundaries and if you say hi, you can forget being able to pry yourself away for an hour? Mangers are messy places where animals stick their germ filled faces to feed, feet are messy appendages that come into contact with dirt, and filth, and carry pleasantries such as corns and warts. Fishermen smell like....well fish...prostitutes carried the aroma of their lifestyle, and yet I believe the pride that keeps us from meeting people in their messes smells far more foul to our Heavenly Father than anything of those scents. So what's to be done? How do we swallow the pride that keeps us clean and neat and make our way into the messes other people are wallowing in? I think the answer can be found in Matthew 18:3 where Jesus says, "I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Then Jesus goes on to say in verse 4 "Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Obviously Jesus sees in the hearts of children something that adults truly lack and I think it can be narrowed down to they way that children love. Yesterday I had the privilege of getting one of the worst flu's I have had since I was a child. It came on fast and left me hugging the toilet for a few hours. No matter how hard I tried to get the girls to stay in the other room, they kept running in to hug me, rub my hair, give me pictures they had drawn, and lavish kisses anywhere I would let them. Not once did they hesitate to show affection due to fear of contracting the illness that ravaged my body. It didn't phase them when I said they needed to stay away because mommy didn't want them to get sick. They pushed past my pride and worry and met me in my mess. In doing so, I caught a glimpse of the very face of Jesus Himself as Love came down and hugged me...and kissed me...held me in my messy state. No wonder Jesus said that children are the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. They lack the well groomed self preservation we adults adorn ourselves with. They lack the carefully nurtured worry we have spent years cultivating. Children aren't afraid of is one big mess to them...and they don't know anything but to love all through it. I have always said that I am a visual/tangible learner and yesterday was proof. The visions of Jesus, the One who meets us in our messes became so real to me and I don't want the lesson to end there. Old habits die hard so you will probably still see me with my hand sanitizer hanging from my key chain and my bottles filled with anti-sick promises in my medicine cabinet, but my prayer is to be drawn to messes rather than afraid of them. I want to be like my daughters and reach down with hope. I want to be like Jesus and love the unloved. I want to be the one people call when they have no-where to go, not to gain a pat on the back or walk away feeling good, but because that is what love reach out when it costs you meet people in their messes