Today I Saw God
Have you ever been surprised by a moment of God's grace? Maybe you haven't been bopped over the head by a tidal wave of undeniable grace, but what about a precious moment? Living with our hearts and eyes open helps prepare the soul for an encounter. I had one recently. It happened so fast; I wasn't prepared. But it was definitely God's grace.
I've been volunteering at Hutchison Elementary School with the PALS program since it's inception nine years ago. (This program matches elementary students with adult mentors once a week.) Five years ago, I began meeting with a young boy named Josue. He was in the fourth grade at the time and is now a freshman at Herndon High School.
After Josue moved on to middle school, I began meeting with his sister, Emily, and his brother, Jonathan. Josue had told them all about "Miss Becky," and they wanted the chance to meet with me too.
Emily is just finishing fifth grade, and Jonathan is moving to third grade next year. I meet with Emily and Jonathan on the same day but at different times. I bring LEGOS, crafts, books, games and drawing supplies throughout the year. I spend 30 minutes with them, and we talk about their life, struggles and joys. Their life is very different from mine in many ways. I feel fortunate to have been with the same family for so many years.
Recently the kids told me their mom works at Potbelly Sandwich Shop in Herndon. In between my meetings with the kids, I have often gone to Potbelly to get a sandwich and read in a booth until it's time to go back to Hutchison. The other day I decided to ask about their mom. I was early so the lunch crowd had not yet arrived, and I was the only one in line.
As I ordered my sandwich, I glanced at each of the workers behind the counter to see if I could spot a family resemblance, but I could not. As my sandwich glided through the toaster, I had to ask, "Is there a Martha who works here?" The woman who was about to put lettuce, tomato and mayo on my sandwich looked up and smiled at me. The woman next to my sandwich maker nodded and said, "That is Martha."
I smiled and said hello. I told her that I meet with her kids each week at Hutchison. And then I experienced that precious grace moment I was talking about: her eyes opened wide, and she said, "You?! You are Miss Becky?!" The recognition in her eyes was priceless. Her English wasn't perfect but she told me her kids' favorite day of the week was Tuesday, the day they get to see Miss Becky.
My heart warmed with her unexpected blessing. Showing up at Hutchison, week after week for nine years could be called obedience. But this meeting, while I was thanking Martha for making me a sandwich, is where God touched us both by a surprising moment of grace.
Submitted by Becky Kendall.
"Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ's compassion for the world is to look out; yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good; and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now." – Saint Teresa of Avila
I find this beautiful quote from Teresa of Avila to be both inspirational and a bit intimidating. With all we are called to navigate in the world today, how do we live out this worthy but often demanding assignment? Perhaps we can begin to understand how to "be" Christ's hands and feet by considering how Jesus used his hands and feet when he was walking among us. Through the writers of scripture, we have a record of the way Jesus lived out his earthly existence, and these stories offer us clues on how we might continue his work.
Spend Time in Prayer
First, Jesus knew that he had to spend timewith the Fatherin order to know where to go and what to do next. Throughout the Gospels, we find that Jesus often "withdrew to a solitary place" in order to hear from his Heavenly Father.Even my most well-intentioned attempts to do God's will are useless unless I also regularly withdraw to a solitary place to listen to my Father. Through time in God's word, sharing my heart in prayer and being still enough to listen, I begin to glimpse the path that God has for me to follow to get involved in what he is doing in my little part of God's world. Without that time, I find I am often tilting at windmills.
Secondly, Jesus was willing to be interrupted as he went about the work that the Father had given him to do. Most of the accounts of Jesus interacting with people and performing miracles begin with a phrase such as, "as Jesus went on from there." He was often traveling to another destination when someone approached him in need of healing. While his disciples sometimes tried to discourage or deter these seekers, Jesus always had time for the people who crossed his path.
Jesus was all about relationships. In every instance, he made the choice tostop and offer healingand care to the persons involved.Because he was notoverly tied to his agenda of the moment, Jesus could attend to the higher purposes for which he was sent.In our own lives, we similarly have thechoice to view the unexpected, the unplanned and theinconvenient interruptions we encounter asprecious opportunities for connection and healing, divine appointments to realize our own role in bringinglove to a hurting world.
Get Our Hands Dirty
Third, Jesus was willing to get his hands dirty. One of my favorite stories about Jesus is the time he chose to wash the feet of his disciples in order to teach them about being a servant.In their culture, washing dirty feet was the lowliest of jobs, yet Jesus got on his knees and tenderly washed and dried the dust-covered feet of those he loved most and then entreated them to do the same in his name. In fact, Jesus said clearly in John 13:15, "I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you."
As I seek to find the "important" work that I can do in God's kingdom, I sometimes overlook the opportunities for smaller acts of serviceacts that become holy when done from a place of love, grace and gratitude. Life is messy. People are complicated. Getting our hands dirty, literally or figuratively, requires a willingness to get involved in the middle of the mess and complications of being human and loving well. In prayer or in service, when I am on my knees, I am closest to Jesus.
Love the Least of These
Finally, if we are to truly become Jesus' hands and feet, we must share his love for "the least of these." Jesus was revolutionary in his approach to the downtrodden and forgotten in his society. He touched lepers, he welcomed women and children, he dined with criminals, he championed the poor and he defended the powerless. Jesus spent his time on earth with the hated and the outcasts and claimed that he had come to "preach good news to the poor." If I want to be the hands and feet of Jesus, I have to open my eyes to the suffering in the world and allow my heart to be broken by those things that break the heart of the Father. Through the power of the Holy Spirit and a willingness to pay attention, we too can find ways and places where we can contribute to fixing what is broken in our world.
Bottom line: we each can make a difference, and it matters that we try. God is at work in the world, and we can be part of it. We can be the hands and feet of Jesus!
This post was originally published on Kelly's blog, "Grace Notes."