“I asked that God would help me to see that man as He sees him if I pass him again. ” – Sara Barnes, China Missionary
This was a line that caught my attention in a recent journal entry from Sara. While walking down the street she passed a man whose face was badly burned, so badly burned that it was painful to look at. She hurried past him and later felt crushed that she had not done more.
How often have we all done the same thing? In an effort to move past something uncomfortable, we rush past, push it aside, repress it. It’s a normal HUMAN reaction. It is not natural for us to be unselfish. As Christians we are constantly being molded into the image of Christ. We are given trials and opportunities to shed little pieces of our humanity and to become something altogether supernatural. Granted, we will never become anything more than human while we are constrained by our flesh, but while we are here on earth, we get the opportunity to show Christ to others through our actions.
I, like Sara, want to do my best to pause when I have the opportunity to be Christ someone and I want to see that person, no matter how ugly, the way Christ sees them – as his beautiful creation. Let me see them through grace and love, the love that can only come from something that is not human. Love that can only come from God.
Thanks Sara for sharing your story, it touched me and I am sure it will change others too.
Here is a little more of Sara’s story:
As we were leaving the subway station, we passed a man that I remember from when Senator and I lived in that neighborhood 7 years ago. His face is so badly burned that it’s hard for me to describe it to you. Hard to describe firstly because most of it is burned beyond recognition, but secondly because it is just so hard to look him that I can’t recall a complete picture of him mentally. And today, my maternal hyper-protective instincts kicked in and I hurried the kids past, hoping they wouldn’t notice him.
I’m not sure if I thought I was protecting the kids from an image that might be too much for their young minds or protecting him from what their possible reactions would be, but after we were out of the station, one thing was clear. Whether I had been with the kids or alone, the urge to hurry past and look away would have been just as strong.
And then I remembered the bottle cap mural, and the song, and my heart felt crushed. I wondered if I were alone if I could sit down face to face and have what little conversation my current language skills will allow me too. (There is no danger or risk involved, these beggars sit in broad daylight amongst crowds of wealthy foreigners.) I know that 7 years ago I didn’t. But I’ve learned a lot about our God in those 7 years, I know better than ever that God doesn’t see as I see. I asked that God would help me to see that man as He sees him if I pass him again.
Our current language level prohibits us from having in depth, spontaneous conversations the way we’d like to, but I am fully capable of offering someone a snack and a smile. I even know how to ask them if they believe in Jesus and if they say no, I know how to tell them that whether or not you believe, there certainly is a God who loves you.
But in order to do any of that, we must be willing to resist the urge to hurry past. Pray that we would have courage and boldness for such moments. In all reality, the guests at the Renewal Center are typically quite easy to love. They are clean and well dressed and happy to be there. But there are still many in our midst just as desperately in need of hope, even if they have no interest in our showers.