I remember being told by a very wise person (maybe several) that when I became a mother I would realize how much I didn’t know about anything.
At the time I thought they didn’t know what they were talking about because I was incredibly smart, what with my highly educated brain and 24 years of worldly experience and expertise and all.
But over the course of the last 12 years and the birthing and raising of 5 children I have come to recognize just how much I have to learn from my little people.
A couple of weeks ago I saw my oldest daughter demonstrate the love of Christ in a way that was so tangible that I was embarrassed. I wasn’t embarrassed by what she did, but embarrassed that she demonstrated it first while I didn’t even recognize there was a need.
We were in downtown Seattle, which is known best for its stellar views of the Puget Sound, the Space Needle and its overall beauty. But what the pictures we see most don’t show is the large number of people walking the streets with their grocery carts overflowing with garbage bags, stuffed with every personal possession they have. Or the mentally ill who sit talking to themselves under streetlights, murmuring back to the voices in their heads. Or those who have hit rock bottom and have nowhere to go, so they wander the streets by day, trying to find purpose and, come sundown, find a bench to sleep on until the sun rises again.
As we walked out of the store we were visiting, I was intent on getting our family straight to the car. It was nearing 4 o’clock and rush hour traffic was going to be a nightmare. I had 4 of the 5 kids with me and I don’t particularly enjoy sitting in traffic with hungry kids because they tend to whine a bit. I was focused on getting from Point A to Point B.
My dear daughter however, grabbed my hand and said, “Mommy! Don’t we have anything?”
I stopped. “What honey?”
“Don’t we have anything to give him? Like the fruit snacks we just got? And the bananas?”
She directed my attention to the homeless man under the lamp-post. He was horribly dirty, his skin leathered by being outside more than inside, and his belongings in a black garbage bag behind him, being used as a back-rest as he sat on the street. He seemed unable to move.
I hadn’t noticed him. I noticed the other people walking by… the business man on his cell phone talking about the board meeting the next day… the lady dressed like she was going to or perhaps was slated to be in a Broadway show… the gangster wannabe attempting to loudly piece together a rhyme at the corner…. But I hadn’t even seen this man. This man who sat quietly right at my feet.
“Yes honey, we do.” I told her. I reached in my bag and grabbed what she said, fruit snacks and a banana. Nothing much. I didn’t have any cash or water or anything else, but we had those things.
I handed them to my daughter who walked over to him and laid them by his hands and said, “These are for you” with a gentle, kind, and timid smile.
My daughter demonstrated the love of Jesus. She loved the “un-lovable”. She noticed one who has gone unnoticed for a good chunk of his life.
Or didn’t I?
Maybe I did notice him and I, deep in my heart, thought, “Quick, get the kids out of here. He’s scary” or “Oh my gosh, how do these people end up like that?” or “I wish someone would take care of these people and help them back on their feet” all the while never thinking that person could or should be me.
Our pastor recently referenced the story of the Good Samaritan from Luke 10:25-37, in which a lawyer was trying to test Jesus in saying,
25 “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” He replied. “How do you read it?”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
I have spent so much of my life thinking like the priest, a person who knows much about the Law (Scriptures, etc.) but chooses to keep that knowledge in my head, not choosing to live out what it says. Or like the Levite, who was too afraid to get involved in a situation and didn’t want to get his hands dirty.
But not Jesus. The first people Jesus ALWAYS ministered to were the poor; the weak; the broken; the shunned and ignored.
Who am I to think I’m better than them that I don’t need to get involved? That I can’t provide for needs if I have the means?
But my daughter, my incredibly wise, thoughtful, caring and compassionate 8-year-old little girl, she gets it. And she is teaching her mom quite a lot about how to be the hands and feet of Jesus. She noticed the need of a man and she stopped and helped.
I hope to have a faith in Jesus like my children; one that is simple and completely dependent on Him, not relying on my own resources, achievements or accomplishments to justify myself or raise myself above others.
I hope to have the courage (what a strange word, since it implies I am currently fearful to act, which might actually be the case) to actually live out what I know and “Look not only to my own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4)
I still have a lot to learn, but even more that I need to start applying.