19 January 2014

The Least of These

"People have forgotten what life is all about. They've forgotten what it is to be alive. They need to be reminded. They need to be reminded about what they have and what they can lose. And what I feel is the joy of life, the gift of life, the freedom of life, the wonderment of life." ~Leonard Lowe, Awakenings

The Least of These
It's strange what triggers memories sometimes. Frequently, the last year or two I have thought about a handful of adults who reached out to me when I was a child.

I remember a couple who took be out for Dairy Queen once or twice (he was even ill with cancer). An Italian, grandpa-aged man who bought me some stuffed animals, which I've kept till this day (stuffed animals were my FAVOURITE gift as a kid). A man who sat on the dock with me and sang "K-K-K-Katy" to me every summer.

The unique thing to me about these is that I grew up in a good and loving home. In fact, I was the youngest of six kids and a pastor's daughter. I could easily have been looked at as "all right" with enough attention to be overlooked. But somehow the love of God came through them to me (they couldn't have known that "quality time" is one of my love languages, but God did).

I just shared with a friend of mine about one other time I remember so vividly along this memory trail.

During a family vacation one summer, I disobeyed my sister, Connie, when she was taking care of me. I was a fish, as a kid. I lived in the water from morning till night. So my parents gave me the choice of no swimming for a day or a spanking. The spanking would be quicker, but I hated them so much that I chose not to swim. So the next day I sat on shore watching everyone else. Then a couple came over and asked if they could take me out. We went to a restaurant and ordered a brownie. I'll never forget that. I think I was old enough to know I deserved my punishment and wasn't escaping it. Instead, this became a picture of grace which made my punishment bearable.

These lessons were given to me at the youngest of ages, but have stayed with me all my life. By example, these individuals showed me what taking time for "the least of these" could look like. Their attention, singling me out, made me feel significant in their eyes. It didn't boost my self-importance, I don't think, but made me wish to give this gift to others too.

As I mentioned, these acts poured God's love and grace into my heart in life-demonstrated ways. He recognised me in a crowd (of family, church, nation, world), reached out through them, and touched me in a way that I could understand.

And, it was through simple things—some time, a gift, a song.

Jesus Loves the Little Ones Like You
I visited my parents over the holidays and my mom read aloud a book to us during some free time. One of the quotes from the books that stuck with me was "Jesus sure loves the children, Dad."

Whether or not the circumstances of the book took place or not, it's true—Jesus sure loves the children.
Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, "Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. (Luke 18:16)
It's made me think about whether there is some teenager or child (or some adult who's often alone), who I might be able to show this love to. It can be simple, but God can use it in marvelous ways.

Do you have memories of people who impacted you for good or for bad by singling you out? Please share your story with me below in the comments.

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