Thursday, December 22, 2011

To China with Love - Part IV: God with Us

 The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”  -Matthew 25:40

“Long lay the world in sin and error pining ‘til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.”  All season long, these words have been ringing in my ears.  I just can’t get past how true they are.  Until Christ appears, our souls do not feel their worth.  It’s been months since I came home from China and, through all the ups and downs that I have faced in those months, I still return to memories of my time there to keep me going.  And I have to wonder… why?

Emmanuel, God with us.  The truth is, sometimes I don’t really feel like God is with us.  Some days God feels distant and silent, and sometimes those days are the days I need Him most.  And it’s hard.  Sometimes I find myself praying for Christ to appear so my soul can once again feel its worth.  And then I remember.  I remember my China story.  I remember how God started it before I even realized.  I remember how faithful God was to see me through, giving me sweet little gifts to build my faith and courage before I left, walking with me through the breaking while I was there.  I remember the faces of those kids.  My precious Le Dong.  My darling Qing Lian.  I can see them changing before my eyes because of our time together.  I remember that God is good and He is with us.  He is with us in the least of these. 

Now, I can take that verse from Matthew 25 in either of two directions.  I can talk about how, sometimes, when we wonder where God is, whether or not He’s still with us, the best thing we can do is take our eyes off of ourselves and go and love the least of these.  In that self-sacrifice we meet God in a way we can’t even begin to imagine.  That’s true enough, but the thing that touches me about that verse tonight goes beyond the idea of service.  It’s this idea that the people the King was speaking to didn’t know that in their service they had created a direct connection to Jesus Christ.  They just saw people.  In reality though, Jesus was right there among them the whole time.  It was Him that they served; it was through Him that they served.  Sometimes it’s not obvious that God is with us.  He doesn’t always show up in the way we’d expect, but if we look, if we ask for our eyes to be opened, if we seek, if we listen, we will find that He really is right there.  He lives in us.  He works through us.  He looks back at us through the eyes of the least of these.  And even when we miss all those things, oh beloved, He lives in our stories!  And that is why I keep going back to those memories over and over again.  May we always remember our stories!