We miss so much God when we devalue the creation made in his image—Imago Dei.
Goodness, life is a giant soup pot of mess, nastiness, stink. But it is also in this melting pot that so much beauty, worth, value, and life is found. Possibly, might could be found—if one is just willing to look with eyes wide open and heart wide open.
This week had every possibility of being a mess, a disaster of sorts. This week, situations at work reached such a climax, I seriously considered one of two different job opportunities. I no longer loved my job. I cannot tell you yet whether I will ever love my job again. That remains to be seen. This post isn’t about that. That is simply the background for this post.
Wednesday, a new trainee “graced” my kitchen. Not a word of greeting, no smile, just waltzed in like she’d worked in our store for years. I smiled and introduced myself but she did neither. I couldn’t bring myself to extend my hand, as touch felt far too intimate, vulnerable, precious for this dark moment. My heart sank when I looked at the schedule of trainees and found her to be on my next three shifts. Rude, bitter heart, no joy—some apt descriptions of what was being glaringly presented.
I found reasons to stay out of the kitchen, and managed to be away from her for over an hour. New people stress me out. Difficult new people nearly make me cry and quit. Near to Point B, I took a trip of garbage to the backroom to remove myself completely from the situation.
It was back there that I asked Jesus to give me a heart that loves like he does. A heart surrendered to him as Sovereign over all circumstances and the One who ordained for this very event. I asked him to help me be a gracious strong—that I would be gentle and tender like the meaning of my name but also carrying the strength and dignity of being a daughter of the King.
The Rachel I am when Jesus is free in me walked back into the kitchen and began to develop a relationship with “Gretchen”. It was painful, halting, and scary at first. I didn’t know if she was going to tell me to be quiet, glare at me, or give some other fear-inducing response.
God was in the kitchen that day, and the next day, and the next day. Truly, he blessed the fragments offered and gave a miraculous feast. We talked about so much over the course of three days. By the last day, she was calling me “dear” and “hon”—and not in the derogatory way they can be used. She even smiled and laughed. My heart fairly danced when I saw her teeth and heard something beautiful erupting from her lungs and mouth.
We talked about Jesus. Together, we entered into the mysteries of the Gospel and Christ and church. We were two travelers on different paths, but for an instant, we were on our own version of a Road to Emmaus experience. We shared questions, thoughts, and reflections on having a relationship with Jesus vs. being religious. Honestly, there is nothing worth more than simply making it the aim of living, breathing “to know nothing but Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2).
This is not to say that you refuse to know anything else. No, as Paul said, it is a decision to not fill the space with empty, lofty words. It is refraining from using great theological terms and concepts, when all a situation requires is entering into the mysteries of the Gospel as a fellow traveler. Just give them Jesus. The real Jesus requires no doctoring up to look beautiful, no defending to make him more appealable. No, just let Jesus be Jesus. Let him speak and live for himself.
Tears are oozing from my eyes as I write this, knowing how close I was to completely missing all this beauty! If I had remained as aloof as she was for those first hours, we would have both had three fairly miserable days. And there would never have been any mention of Jesus. At all.
Jesus is seeking worshippers from every people group, everywhere. And it is my deep hope and prayer that he will draw Gretchen to himself. The force of his Spirit is unstoppable and uncontainable and I believe that he is already beginning to soften her heart.
It was an incredible honor to represent him this week. I am humbled that he would allow me to give her a greater glimpse of the greatness of God. And I am grateful that it is when we are broken that he is able to shine all the more brighter and clearer through the cracks. Just as we are, so just as he is can be seen.