So, I'm sitting here thinking about my little child. He's always telling me stories with little characters. Some he makes up. Some are him retelling a story he watched on TV about Thomas the Train or Bob the Builder. Sometimes he sings to me. Sometimes he climbs on my shoulders. Sometimes he tells me jokes and makes up the punchline. Sometimes he falls down when he runs, and sometimes he needs my hugs and kisses to feel better. I love him. He's beautiful. Even when he's covered in mud. Even when he won't listen. Even when he throws a tantrum for not getting his way. My sweet little boy is my joy, my life. I love him.
But... he's actually not little anymore. We're sitting here at his college orientation today. I'm watching him, knowing that in a month I'll be loading him up in a car and he'll be heading off to make his own way. It's beautiful. It's terrifying. It's full of grief, but it's so much more full of love and treasured time. This is a moment I've known was coming, but I was never expecting this level of emotion. And yet now that it's here, I'm full of excitement for him, because of who he's become. He's going to be amazing. He's going to change his world. He's going to lift up others around him. He’s going to love the unloved, carry the burdens of those who can't, and fill his community with a light. That light can't be put out, because it didn't originate with him. Jesus is alive in my boy. I'm gonna miss him, but I'm so proud of him. He's become such an incredible man. I've seen him grow in stature, physically, mentally, and spiritually. I'm so proud of who he's become.
But throughout his life, he's made lots of mistakes too. Sometimes he lied to me. Sometimes he put himself before others. Sometimes he took more than his fair share. But that's not what I'm sitting here thinking about. I'm thinking about every moment I've treasured with him. How every word out of his mouth has been a gift to me. How he glorifies God in his words and actions. And how much his hugs and kisses make me feel better.
Brothers and sisters, guess what... This is how God sees us. God remembers who we are, at our best, most creative, most loving, not our worst. God says our sin and brokenness is thrown “As far as the east is from the west” Ps. 103:12. Wherever we are, whoever we are, no matter what, God looks upon us with great love. But it's not because of anything we've done, or not done, it's because of Jesus in us. God knows who we are. God loves us in spite of our shortcomings. God loves us when we're dirty, clean, rich, poor, no matter how much money we have or don't have, who we love, how we live, and everywhere in between. God consistently sees the best of who we are and who we can be. When we fall down, and forget who we are and how God sees us, God lifts us back up and reminds us that we are the Lord's, loved, hugged and kissed, forgiven.
And here's the thing. God expects that we look at each other that same way. There is so much stupid division in the world these days. We define each other and put each other in boxes. We turn on each other and seek what's best for us - no matter the cost. So much division. More than I've seen in my lifetime. And it's just that. Stupid. It's breaking us apart. But there's a light in all of us that can't be put out. Because we didn't put it there. The light is Jesus. And that's who we need to see when we look at each other. We're one; not because we say so, but because Jesus prayed we would be. One body, in Jesus, and Jesus in us ALL.
So today, this week, this year, start looking at each other - regardless of your differences - the way I look at my son, the way God looks at us. See the best in each other, see Jesus in each other. There is no such thing as "them".
The world will be a lot better if we do.
"But now, this is what the Lord says – he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: 'Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.'"
God, empty me of myself. Gift us with the ability to see each other the way you see us, loved, forgiven... Beautifully Yours. Amen.