Finding Jesus in Unusual Places
By Iris Richard
I was caught in one of the dreaded traffic jams of our congested African city. The speed of the endless line of cars, trucks, and busses had been reduced to walking pace. Only pedestrians, motorbikes, and bicycles could manage to make a bit of headway, weaving between the packed lanes of bumper-to-bumper vehicles. Sitting in my car, as I passed through this poor area of town, I had no choice but to breathe of the polluted air which was heavy with the fumes of exhaust.
I felt sick to my stomach and impatient when my eyes drifted to the puddle-strewn sidewalk, still muddy from last night’s downpour. Between vendors displaying secondhand wares, and fruits and vegetables on tarps on the ground, I spotted a small boy, not older than seven years old. On closer look I saw that he scooted along on the bottom of his pants, dragging his lame legs behind him.
Amongst the cacophony of hooting, jostling vehicles, and people crowding the unpaved sidewalk, the little crippled boy was holding out his hand, smiling in an effort to get attention from anyone who was willing to stop and take notice of him. In the line next to me, which was closest to the sidewalk, I noticed a man dressed in worn pants, a torn tee-shirt and muddy hole-ridden shoes on his feet. With a strained face and bulging muscles he was pulling a heavy handcart through the traffic. Large sacks of potatoes were piled high and sweat was running down his face from the effort of pulling the heavy load.
The crippled boy and the man’s eyes met and he stopped his handcart, reached into his pocket, pulled out a coin and placed it into the boy’s dirty outstretched hand. The boy’s face broke into a beautiful smile and he cheerfully called “God bless you” after the man, who himself was obviously poor and one of the lowest of laborers.
People glanced out the windows of their fancy SUVs, and I dare say that some were reminded of the sample Jesus set for us when He reached out to the downtrodden, the lame, and the blind. With this sample of caring in the midst of chaos and poverty, Jesus’ love illuminated the dreary sidewalk for a moment, serving as a reminder of His presence through such a small deed of kindness.
It was but a spark of light which struck me, prompting me to be more ready to be an instrument of God’s love. Like that man with his simple, yet profound deed, he himself poor and in rags, caring enough to show God’s love to that little boy.
My prayer that evening was to be in tune when God calls me to be His hands to someone in need and to be His feet to walk a mile in a poor soul’s shoes; in other words, to be instant in season and out of season when His Spirit nudges me. I further pondered how a close relationship with Jesus through His written Word and a regular time of communion with Him will be the motivator and will help me recognize when to share His love in even the unexpected circumstances.
Soon after this prayer I had a chance to put this thought into practice, when my daughter was in the labor ward giving birth to her third child. After her healthy baby boy was born and while she was resting in the ward, a woman in the next bed behind the dividing curtain was having a really hard time coping with her labor. She was a stranger, but I felt compelled to go over and ask her if I could help. Having been a birth coach during many deliveries, I offered to assist her with a breathing pattern with which she could better cope. Following the simple pattern, she clung on to me and soon got the hang of it, even managing to relax between contractions. “You are an angel,” she huffed after another wave of strong pain.
“I’m no angel,” I replied, “but I try to follow what God shows me.” “Jesus loves you,” I added, and her husband who had been watching took over to assist her with her breathing.
There are countless instances along our life’s journey when a simple deed of kindness can shed the light of God’s love into the most unusual places. Like this little poem brings out:
Ready to go, ready to stay,
Ready my place to fill;
Ready for service lowly or great,
Ready to do His will!
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit.”—John 15:5 NIV