There have been a handful of people I’ve met over the years who have something I can’t quite put my finger on – but I know I want it. The kind of people who when I meet them I somehow have this longing to be nearer to them, to learn from them. There’s something about them that’s contagious and it draws me in instantly. It’s a bit like they’re always in on some sort of secret just on the cusp of being revealed. There is a joy, an understanding and a twinkle in their eye.
I want it. I want in on the secret.
As I’ve met these people along my path of life I ask them one question, “How?” How is there a constant bubble of joy just right there at the surface. How is there time to look each person you meet straight in the eye and make them know that you see them and value them. How did you come to this place?
It’s far more than just a bubbly personality or an over the top greeting. It’s a way of life that these precious people know.
Each time I’ve asked I’ve received the same answer.
The mode of our heart is a choice each day.
Each of these people know something I often forget. They know every single day they can let self-pity creep in. They can let pride take over. They can give their hearts over to self importance, which makes us so inwardly focused we become haughty, unable to see those around us or just plain rude. They know anger is a real emotion which can overtake. They know belittling words flow off the tongue much easier than words of praise and encouragement. They know if we don’t make a choice for something different, our hearts will so easily wander and lead us astray, down paths that are destructive and dangerous.
So, each day they choose Jesus. They choose a heart mode that says you above me. Service over self pity. They realize playing the victim because life is hard leads to wallowing, bitterness and blame, and these are not the ways of joy.
I’ve learned time after time, the people who seem to know the greatest joy, have walked the most difficult roads. These aren’t happy people because life has shown them an easy ride. They are joyful people because amidst the trials, the loss, the grief, they’ve sought a different way. They’ve made a deliberate choice to say Lord, if this is what you have for me today, help me walk through it with my eyes on you.
The thing about people who make this choice, who walk through their life this way, is they make me cry. Every dang time they look at me. And if they pray for me? I’m a puddle on the floor.
It’s been on my heart lately to consider how I receive people. When they’re near to me do they feel valued and respected and seen? It doesn’t really matter the who of it all. I’m talking the mail carrier who knocks on my door with a package I have to sign for, or the person bagging my groceries, or the family sitting behind me at church that I don’t know. The kid kicking the back of my seat all through the movie, or the person I pull up to at border patrol or my best friend in all the land.
I’ve asked myself the question on repeat – am I a receiver of people or a pusher of what I want – my will, my way, my agenda. I have to admit, the latter is often true.
As I’ve spent the last week amongst the most amazing receiver of people I think I’ve ever met, I couldn’t help but want what he has. Each time he looked at me, straight into my eyes and asked if I was okay, my eyes began to well with tears. It started to feel silly after a time, to say I was good – great, in fact – with glossy eyes but it was true. The way I was received only made me teary because I felt like I had never been so close to Jesus as I was when I was with this person modelling His care.
How would Jesus receive the people we pass by each day? I think it’s worthy of our time to consider. Would He rush by in the manner we do or would He sit right down, look straight into each ones eyes and say, “Are you good? Because I really care if you are or not.”
Having someone near who loves the way Jesus loves means you can’t help but want to love that way too. Being cared for by humans who care like Jesus cares shows me how I want to care for the people around me better. Being received by someone who makes you feel like you’re being received into the arms of Jesus, and to realize this is but a glimmer of the goodness of God right here on earth – well, it just about changes everything about how I want to live my days.
I want to receive people in the way Jesus would. I want them to feel His love through me. I don’t know how to accomplish this on my own but I’m willing to ask Him to do it in me. If the people who love Jesus loved like Jesus and each person we encountered felt received in love the way we feel received by the grace of God, no matter how much of a mess we are, I really believe we could change the world.
Let’s change the world. Not because we’re smart enough or made really wise choices. But because we love in such an extravagant way people can’t help but see Jesus. I want the world to see Him – don’t you?