One would probably argue with me, and honestly I might even argue with myself that I can see Jesus in many of the faces and lives of the kids I get to do life with, and while this is true, last week as I was dealing with one of my kids, who tends to be a tough one…I realized that when I look into this little face, when I get to hear the depths of his heart he is Jesus to me. He is a tough kid, and to people who don’t get to spend the quality time I do with him, he’s a “bad kid” one that makes you cringe when he walks through the door, because you know he’s going to argue about something, he’s going to probably get mad and yell at someone, he’s going to tell you, you’re ugly, he’s probably going to push someone and maybe even hit them, but beyond all of these things is something more. Something that has taught me more about grace, love and mercy than others, someone who has taught me that there is so much more to a person than their attitude, that beyond his hard outer shell there’s a kid who wants to be loved. One that has taught me more about Jesus than the many adults I surround myself with. He has taught me that the love and attention this child desires from me and others around him is the kind of attention that Jesus desires from me.
There have been several times over the past few weeks, where I have had the opportunity (he keeps conveniently getting “locked out” of his house) to spend time with this kid, and the last time he got locked out, he came over and instead of asking to call his Dad or Grandma he asked if we could just talk until they came home. He opened up about his mom (who passed away), shared that he has an anger problem and he hates that he feels like he always needs to fight, he shared with me that he wants to go to college, he wants to be good at school and he made it two weeks before he got in trouble at school (for him that’s victory), he shared that sometimes he does things because he wants to be liked. When I look into his eyes I see more than a kid who is troubled, I see Jesus, I see someone who can teach me a lot more than I can teach him, but I also see Jesus, a kid who when he’s ready to completely surrender his life to Jesus he is going to change the world, and I believe that day is coming.
As I sit on the front steps with this kid, I am reminded that each time he gets into trouble, he comes back and asks for forgiveness and apologizes, I am learning that sometimes he just can’t contain himself and that his way of getting attention is to act out, whether it be right, wrong or indifferent. I realize that forgiveness is huge in his life whether he knows it or not, and he desires nothing more than forgiveness, for the things he does wrong. He desires approval from me, from others around him, from the other kids in the neighborhood, from his dad, from everyone around him, I realize that as much as he wants to do things the right way he sometimes doesn’t know how too, I realize that there is so much potential in this child that others miss out on because they lose him at his behavior problems.
Last night as I lie in bed I couldn’t help but pray for him, pray that his heart will be captured, that he will surrender his life to Christ, that others will be able to dig deep into the depths of his heart as I have, that he will teach others about grace, mercy, love and forgiveness as he has taught me, I pray that others will have grace with him, that others will learn that while may be a “bad” kid there is so much more to him, I pray that all of his dreams of going to college, and becoming something BIG will come true, I pray that he will see his value and worth doesn’t have to be found in the streets.
I wonder how many of us have people in our lives who are Jesus to us, but we get caught up in what they are not, rather than what they are to us? I wonder how many of us dismiss the person that God has but in our lives to teach us, because they don’t look or act like us? I pray today that each of us will take a long hard look at the “bad kid”, the homeless person, the annoying office mate, the nosey neighbor and allow that person to be who God intends for them to be in our lives, because as bad as they are, annoying as they are, nosey as they are or as dirty as they are, I am sure they have something to teach us.
Mark 12:30-31 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[a] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] There is no commandment greater than these.”