If you satisfy the needs of the wretched,
then your light will rise like dawn out of darkness.
I am not sure how to really put into words the grace that I was able to experience today but I will try.
It came in a wretched package, one that was hunched over, dressed fairly shabby like, over grown beard and smelled like he had craped his pants. He came into the sanctuary in the typical way most disabled people do…skittish and slightly frightened.
I don't know what it is about people like him but I am always drawn to them. I find myself deeply moved to just make them know they are welcome and noticed. It is as if the whole room of people fades into the background and they become all that I see. A grace takes over and it is as if Jesus himself embodies those moments and a very real compassion warms my previously cold heart. I come alive with His perceptions and become motivated to be whatever is needed for them in that moment.
His name was Mike and he came with two other ladies and another gentleman, all from a special needs home down the road. He suffers from a hunched over back that makes him look down to the ground. In order for him to look at you, he cocks his head and looks slightly up at you in a painfully submissive way.
He came to watch Jesus in the church Easter play and I ended up watching Jesus in him.
He sat in the front row right in front of Micah and I. He stunk so very bad and it made me gag. It was awful and it was obvious that people were struggling with his presence. But even with the stench I was drawn to his childlike fascination and praise of the play. At each juncture of the play when something emotional or dramatic happened; he would clap his hands and pump two thumbs up in the air. It was priceless and really the best expression of heartfelt worship I have seen in a long time. I was humbled.
As the drama unfolded his friends who were sitting behind me were obviously moved as well. During the crucifixion scene while Jesus was on the cross, the woman behind me sobbed deeply. I had overheard her telling someone that she was an ex-addict and had suffered a stroke and was very grateful for being clean. As she sat there weeping fairly loudly, I was again humbled by her visceral reaction to the truth being acted out in front of her. I was numb compared to her…she experienced it from the gut and I experienced it from my head. I appreciated it and she encountered Jesus in it. I enjoyed it and was touched…but she worshipped.
It never ceases to amaze me where I end up stumbling into Jesus. There in a cloud of noxious odor, nestled among a bunch of peripheral nobodies…I encountered Christ in all His hidden disguise.
I deliberately shook Mikes hand afterwards, painfully aware of the surprise he expressed at even being recognized. I agonized internally for him and couldn't help but feel a twinge of pain and anger at the seemingly unjustness of the life he had to endure. As I think about it, it seems much like leprosy. People avoid such uncomfortable oddities. Often it is done consciously but more often, it's just a unChristlike pattern of learned callousness that hardens over our middleclass suburbanized hearts.
Sometimes I really wonder if Jesus is even attending our religious programs and after tonight I realized that maybe He rarely does. Because I saw Him vividly in Mike and realized that what I most often think is Jesus, more than likely is just too easy to be Him. But tonight I saw the God who is only found in the burning bush. A burning bush of flesh melting fire, that when approached, sears off your carnal eyelids and opens you up to true vision. The, he who has eyes to see…kind of seeing.
I have been blind for far too long.
It was nice to shake your hand tonight Jesus…I will be looking for you again.