What are you missing? This question has been plaguing me since last night. It's not so much a question I am asking myself as it is a question God seems to be asking me. I believe the events of yesterday are what set the question in motion.
Yesterday afternoon I was sitting on the end of my daughter's bed as she was getting ready for a youth event. It had been a challenging week for her and I but God had brought us through it. I was thankful for the insights He gave me. I was thankful to see His hand in her life and how He is shaping her heart. As I sat on the bed, she was asking a lot of questions about the event she was going to. I had some answers but not all of them and she was getting a little bit frustrated with me because she likes to know every detail ahead of time. She is a planner....like me. Her persistence was getting on my nerves but I didn't want to be short with her so I started talking to God about it. It went like this, "You know you have quite a sense of humor God, making her and I so much alike. I get so frustrated sometimes." Then as I sat there quietly I heard Him say, "This is the child you prayed for. Do you remember how you pleaded with me during your pregnancy for her life? After the ultrasound showed both kidneys filled with cysts? Remember where you have been together and the work I am doing in her heart? What about last summer when you pleaded with me again for her as she lay in the hospital getting blood transfusions?" I can be so focused sometimes on the progress yet to be made or the things that bug me now that I miss the beautiful person God is making her to be. I miss where we've been. Worst of all, I miss the gift of my girl right in front of me.
Later we arrived at the church and I waited for the new youth director so that I could give him the permission slips. After giving him the permission slips I thanked him, shook his hand and said "It was nice to meet you." to which he replied, "Oh you've met me before." I gave a quick apology and explained that I am terrible at remembering names. Honestly, that conversation bugged me the rest of the night! I kept replaying the few times last year that I brought my child to youth group and tried to remember any faces I saw. I tend to be a "drop and go" parent. It's not because I am anxious to get rid of my kids. I'm just not the social butterfly my husband is so I leave right away. Later that evening, I asked my husband if I had ever met the new youth director before and he confirmed that I in fact am not losing my mind! I truly had never met him before. I felt much better until God kept asking me what I was missing. I can miss people's faces. I may see them with my eyes but do I see them with my heart? Are they just another face in the crowd? Evidently this new youth director had been a helper off and on for the past few years. True I was never introduced to him before, but he was probably there a few times when I went to pick my daughter up and I missed him because he was just another face in the crowd. Here's the thing...God never misses a face in the crowd. He sees each individual not only with His eyes but His heart. When I see only faces I am missing something. When I see only faces in a crowd, I miss seeing Christ in all faces!
After leaving my daughter with the new youth director, I went inside the church to help out with the food pantry. My favorite part of helping with food pantry is praying with the people as they come in the door. There are usually two or three people who pray with those coming through the doors to receive food. Last night I was the only one. It is always a stretch for me to say, " Can I pray for you?" to people I have never met before. The more I do it the easier it becomes but it still takes me out of my comfort zone. Last night I got an unexpected answer to my question of "Can I pray for you?". I asked the question and a tall, gray haired man, with big blue eyes and filthy clothes responded, "No, but I tell you what I could use. I could use a hug. I could use a hug because three months ago on this day my friend died. Then today I was reading the paper and found out that another of my friends died. I found out today." He had no tears. He spoke calmly. I wasn't sure if he was telling the truth about his friends dying or he just wanted a hug, so I gave him a half hug. He thanked me and went on his way. As he walked away God spoke to the questions in my heart about the man's honesty and here is what He said, " What if he was telling the truth? Everyone mourns differently. No tears doesn't mean he isn't mourning. What if he was telling the truth...you know what it's like to lose someone...you only gave him a half hug." I did the only thing I could. I ran out to the parking lot to catch the man before he left and I asked him if I could give him another hug. What did I miss? I missed freely giving a good hug away the first time because I questioned his honesty. I missed loving Him like Christ loves me...freely and unconditionally.
When I fail to see Christ in all faces and in all circumstances, I miss the big picture. When all I see are the frustrations or difficulties of the moment with my children, I miss the the work Christ is doing in them. I also miss how He is ever working on me through my children. I miss the gift that they are when I focus only on the work it requires to raise them. When I walk among groups of people whether it's dropping off my kids at a youth event or leaving a church service, if I don't look beyond just passing them in the hallway I miss seeing the people behind the faces in the crowd. I miss fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ. When I am too busy trying to assess someone's motive behind their request, I miss the opportunity to freely love them the way Christ has loved me. I know I am not the only one. We live in a fast paced world. Our lives are filled... often to overflowing. I have to ask, what are you missing? When you look at your children do you see the gift that they are? When you are around people, do you see that they are created by a God who loves them and wants you to love them too? Are they just faces that you pass by as you go about your day? Will you join me as I seek God's help not to miss anything else? John 10:10 says that He came that we might have life... not just any old life... life abundantly. An abundant life doesn't miss anything!