I have just returned from a week in inner-city Memphis for a mission trip with a handful of students. It was an eye-opening experience, to say the least. I am in full-time ministry and I am pretty sure I had lost sight of who Jesus is. I was reminded of that old worship song "Open Our Eyes, Lord, we want to see Jesus.." as I prepared for the week. I love the melody and the words of that song. As I came to understand Jesus more in my life, the words started haunting me. So much that I remember wanting to stand up in the middle of the service I was attending and ask how many people really meant what they were singing. Do we really want to see Him? He is dirty, cold, hungry, and thirsty. Is that the Jesus we are looking for these days?
That is the Jesus we look for when we are on a mission trip like the one I was on last week. Then we see Him everywhere. I saw him in a thousand places last week. I saw him in the 24-year old woman we worked for who is struggling to raise her four children and many of her own siblings. I saw him in my friends from seminary who are reaching out to the young people in their inner-city Memphis neighborhood. I saw him in an older man with the saddest eyes I have ever seen. He lives in an abandoned car wash and wakes up each day shaking violently, desperate for a drink. I saw him everywhere.
I am home now and hope that I my eyes stay open so that I can see Jesus in my everyday. This is where it counts. I say that not to diminish the work done last week (and throughout the year through Service Over Self). But it is only fleeting if it only lasts for a week or so here and there. It has to translate into our daily lives. Jesus is all around us - hungry, thirsty, dirty, cold, and broken. Sometimes in the most unlikely places. He is in that woman you see everyday at work who seems to have it all together. Or maybe in the man who holds it all together each day for his family, but is dying inside because of some secret addiction. That child who feels isolated and unloved at home and at school. And yes, sometimes He looks like what I saw last week in inner-city Memphis.
There's this old quote that I love. I wrote it out for my mom years ago and she still has it on her bulletin board at home. I wrote it in a fun sort of font because that is the way I understood it then. The quote reads, "People see God everyday, they just don't recognize Him..." (Pearl Bailey). It carries new meaning today. I hope I will recognize Him...