Topista is easy to love.
But what about that drunk man around the corner whose too-worn clothes don’t achieve their purpose, and who blows cigarette smoke in my face every time I go to town?
Topista folds my clothes sometimes and washes dishes and makes easy conversation between laughter and letting me hold her baby.
Solomon walks the streets pretending he doesn’t know english, he seeks me out every time I go to town even if for only 5 minutes to grab a can of tomato paste. Each time he begs for a loaf of bread. Only, I know, to turn around and sell, and each time together we buy a Rolex and sit under some disheveled umbrella of a street food stand and I put more pieces together about his real story. To be prodded and poked and treated as ignorant seemed at first a nuisance, until I realized that what better did I have to do than to sit and snack with these guys? All day long my Savior prods me, and rarely do I seek the chance of fellowship.
Baby David has finally learned to smile back at me at 5 months old. To me–he can do no wrong.
So often I put myself and other people on this heiarchy. Defined by spiritual gifts, kingdom achievements, sin or sinlessness, or contentment–I’m not sure which, but often I wind up on the bottom. Maybe if I HALF believed in the grace of God that I know about, I would understand that these things don’t rank our salvation, no they don’t even come close.
That Jesus doesn’t care about my fancy church clothes, my holy hours, my life-altering mistakes, he just wants it all. He doesn’t want the almost lovable to polish up and make new, he wants the UN-lovable. The people in my community that I find so hard to love, to openly communicate with. The completely rancid, worst criminals, the people you fear being near your children. One man comes to mind, one who I wrote off so quickly as impossible. One old friend. Why are the precious children so much easier than the distraught man seeking every substance, every earthly thing to fill a void out of a last desperation? He is teetering on the brink of destruction, and no further promise with that coming day.
But how? By seeking His face in each and every moment. Instead of attuning our hearts to our momentary discomfort, our selfish desires, our fears, but by seeking His glory at the center of each circumstance.
The way he redeems things is only half the miracle…the glory He shows. Finding joy within it is the other half. Looking face to face with our Savior, wide eyed and grinning at joy sought. In life and in death we strive to fix our eyes on Him. In suffering and rejoicing, in contentment and discord, in beauty and ashes, we seek to hold onto His promise that in the end, He is made known, He is lifted higher. And He seeks for us to spill over with joy in it all.
Across every spectrum, culture, and age of life, every mountaintop, every valley and mistaken path, every righteous step and wronged, He remains. At the end of each day and in the midst of any situation we can ask ourselves “Am I fixing my eyes on Jesus?” The good and the bad, because isn’t he due all glory and honor? If the good comes from Him, cannot also the bad because in only His mighty way he allows it to work for His good.
‘Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of Earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”
Never did words ring truer than the realization that when your gaze is on Jesus, nothing else matters. Nothing. That to the earth this is strange how unconcerned you are with anything in measure to his glory and grace. I have wrestled and grappled to think of something that could take the innocence, purity and simplicity of being directed by Jesus. But they only draw or distract my gaze for a moment, unable to truly ruin or tarnish it.
…A little girl refuses to look in my face as I’m only trying to help her understand. Why is that so hard? Her chin rests in my palm as my fingers grace her jaw and I demand her carefree, loose attention. After lingering, her eyes finally lock with mine and a smile eases over her face. Jesus must have a constant hold on my chin, as I toss and turn and avoid his soothing touch and empowering words.
But he stays, he steadies my heart and no matter how long my eyes are removed, or how far they wander or how painstakingly routine my glances become, he views me in love. And we see Jesus in the stumbling man and the baby taking his last breaths, the 4×6 dirt room and the stench of a hospital room. Just the same as we see him in the new life of sunflowers and baby toes snuggled in onesies, and picnics under the moonlight accompanied by an old guitar with children’s voices singing. That discord among brothers and sisters vanishes and hands are all seen as from the same limb. And a kaleidoscope of different beliefs and opinions merge to form His.
I pause to contemplate these truths as the water fills up the pot to boil some water for carrots. For a sweeping moment he comes. “Lord I have seen your goodness, and I know the way you are, so give me eyes to see you in the dark. Your face shines a glory, that I only know it part, and there is still a longing, a longing in my heart.” And by then the water is flowing over the edges of the silver pot and my skirt is soaked with sink water and the maize is ready and the rooster crows and a little one knocks the charcoal stove over and ashes cover her fingertips. But my heart is steadied. And overflowing. My gaze is locked.
“Let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the JOY that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”