One of the greatest–yet simplest–lessons I ever learned about the love of Jesus came from a diaper-clad toddler. No joke.
One sweltering summer day, my husband and I were sipping ice water with some colleagues as we tried to have a conversation above the roaring fans set up in our front room. This was during our ghetto ministry years in Portland, OR, and since our house sat smack in the middle of a war zone, you could always expect the unexpected.
And the unexpected always seemed to find us.
Suddenly we heard a knock at the door, and also a woman sobbing on the other side. I got up to open the door, and as I did, the woman stumbled into the front room and fell to the floor on her knees. We knew her. I’ll call her “Anna,” and she was married to the most notorious and violent gangster in the hood.
It wasn’t unusual for Anna to bear the marks of domestic violence, but we’d never seen her like this. Her shirt was bloody and so torn it was barely hanging by a thread, and scratch marks lined her arms and her neck. A gaping wound on her arm bled profusely, and her red and puffy eye was well on its way to becoming blackened.
In all we were about 7 adults, and none of us knew what to do. We all just stood and stared at each other, hoping someone else would have something to say. Anna just kept sobbing, unable to even speak to us.
Thankfully, there was someone else in the room, and he knew exactly what to do.
Our young son, Jesse, suddenly burst out of the corner where he’d been quietly playing with his toys. With no hesitation at all, he rushed toward Anna, threw his arms around her bloody neck, and patted her bare back with his chubby little hand. All of a sudden, Anna was able to speak, and she said, “Oh, thank you, Jesse. I needed that.”
Boom! Mic drop. We could almost hear God saying, “People, you have just had your butts handed to you by a toddler wearing nothing but a diaper.”
Jesse was able to see Anna with the pure love of Jesus, and that moved him to do what was unthinkable to us. He looked past the blood, Anna’s near-nakedness, the fear of getting between a dangerous gangster and his victim, and the shock of the moment, and then he did what Jesus would have done–what we all should have been able to do, but didn’t.
Today as I go forth during this season of joy and giving, I am determined to love people like this, to be willing to throw my arms around people who really need a hug, to not be afraid of spreading some holiday cheer where it’s needed most. Will you join me?
Happy December 13th!
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