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 (NIV)
My husband and I have been thinking about this verse lately. It started several weeks ago when he came into the room and said to me with a bit of wonder something like, "I just changed Jesus' diaper." Then later, with a sheepish look on his face, "I just yelled at Jesus." Or maybe I said to him in mock reprimand, "You just yelled at Jesus!" We thought it quite funny, really, and also profound. And sobering.
Our new son is pretty helpless, not unlike a newborn. We serve him constantly, as we do our older children, though they are not quite as helpless as Jiushu. There is very little tangible reward at this point. Maybe a smile now and then. Certainly no thank yous or I love yous yet. And often the opposite. Need. Whining. Screeching. And not the happy variety. I won't lie...it's very difficult to imagine that I am serving Jesus in those moments. The "Jesus" who bats food out of my hand onto my carpeted (ugh) kitchen floor. The strong-willed, impatient "Jesus." The "Jesus" who throws Cheerios on the floor even after I've told him 6,352 times not to.
Kris Vallotton wrote in his book Developing a Supernatural Lifestyle: "It is important to note here that the guys who hung out with Jesus every day didn't recognize Him walking on the water [Mark 6:47-50]. Not only did He not look familiar to them, He seemed scary. Oftentimes the Lord will appear to us in a way that forces us to push past our fear in order to embrace Him."
I'm pretty sure Kris didn't have adoption and/or parenting in mind when he wrote this. But that's exactly what came to mind as I read it--that Jesus is showing up in my life daily, perhaps not in a way that seems perfectly safe or comfortable to me. I am not saying that He only shows up in unpleasantness...of course not! It's just a bit harder to recognize Him when He does, and to realize that in my challenging parenting moments, particularly in the newness of our son's adoption (to date, the scariest thing I've ever done), I am embracing Him. The tricky part for me is figuring out how to keep on loving Jesus even while I realize that I'm serving Him. [Are they always the same thing?] Now substitute Jiushu's name for Jesus. Or my husband's name. Or my other kids' names, for that matter. I understand I'm ministering to Jesus when I prepare dinner. When I take my daughter to the potty at 3:30 A.M. Every single morning. Or when I give piano lessons to my son, build Legos with the kids, or read Animal Rescuer stories. But how does it work when I'm feeling ticked about the food on the carpet? Or out-of-my-mind-annoyed by the screeching? Or simply tired of reading about the rescue of sloths, humpback whales, and maned wolves?
Mike Bickle (and others, I'm sure) said "It takes God to love God." That is so very true for me. I can only respond in love and worship and service to the Lord because of the work and wooing of the Holy Spirit within me. I need Him to help me love Him! I need Him to help me love them! I need help so I don't rob myself of the joy of laying down my life. I need help so that my ministry is born out of adoration, not merely out of a servant mentality. And so I come to Him again and again in humility, asking for a changed heart, a transformed mind, and a supernatural love that transcends my own human capacity, that I might push past my fear and my flesh in order not to miss Him, but rather embrace Him. In whatever form He comes.