Pulling up to the window of the local coffee shop I was greeted by the big smile of a tall, scruffily bearded young man who was training a new employee. I handed him my card and he looked away for a second, then looked right at me with suddenly sad eyes.
“You look just like my mom. I’m sorry, I’m having a hard time because she passed away recently.” I could see the tears he was holding in check.
My initial reaction went immediately from, “Do I really look old enough to be the mother of a guy in his mid-twenties?” to intense compassion. This son has just lost his mama. And I look like her.
“I’m so sorry,” I said. “It was sudden?”
“Yes, very. We had no warning. She was 49.”
I am 45.
She had died of a heart attack, he shared. Then he looked at me with the longing eyes of a little boy and reached for me out of the drive-through window. Instinctively I took his hand, clasping it tight, smiling into his eyes and praying to somehow bring him comfort.
“I’m sorry…it’s like I’m touching her again,” he whispered. He shared how he believed God was in control, that this is the hardest thing he has ever gone through but he has faith. So I swallowed back the lump in my throat as he let go and turned to get my now-ready drink. As he handed it to me I spoke what I felt led to say.
“I just want to encourage you. Nothing is wasted. All of this you are going through, this grief, God will use every bit of it. Nothing is wasted.”
He smiled again, saying “Thank you” as I put my car into gear and drove away.
For days I have mulled this over in my mind and asked the Lord to show me what he was doing back there in that drive-through window. I have no doubt this was a divine appointment. The privilege of being used by God as an instrument of comfort is not lost on me, yet I am realizing He has even more to show me.
In that drive-through window, I had the honor and privilege of being a tangible in-between for this young man and his mother. He longs for her, misses her desperately, and needed a big dose of hope. I got to be a glimpse of her, for his sake, just for a moment. Because I look like her. I was allowed to hold his hand and imagine how I would want someone to do the same for one of my children.
Then God reminded me of why I am here, alive. I am here to know Him and make Him known. I am here to be the tangible in-between for a dying world and the Father. I have heard the term “hands and feet of Jesus” countless times but it took on a rich, new meaning that day. By touching me that young man felt like he was touching his mother again.
And I wonder…
What if I live in such a way that, by touching me, someone who is separated from God actually feels like they are touching Him? Do I look like Jesus? What if I am walking in the Spirit so faithfully that I am able to bridge the gap between the grieving sinner and the Savior? That I can take their hand and allow them to realize the love of their Creator, the reality of His existence, and His longing for them to be in His presence?
That by touching me they feel like they are touching Jesus?
Do I look like Jesus? I admit, too often, I do not. My kids would tell you their mama often looks like anyone but Jesus. Worn out, stretched thin, frustrated, tired. Is that how God wants me to live…frazzled? Of course not. God wants me to live fully, overflowing in His love, strength and joy. Reaching out to those I love and to complete strangers with hands ready to grab onto theirs and be that tangible connection to HOPE that they may not even realize they need. How can people want what I have when I don’t look any different than the rest of the world on any given day? But when I mirror the face of their Savior, when my eyes hold His compassion and my heart connects with them in their pain, that is when I look the most like Jesus and that is also how they just might find their way to the Father. Through me. Through you.
Am I like Jesus, a friend of sinners? How do we become like Him?
Romans 12:1-2 gives me the answer:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do no be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Be transformed…In order to become a mirror that reflects the love of Jesus to this world, I must spend time with Him, reading His Word, praying, meditating on Truth and guarding my heart and mind. Legalism has no place here, only love. When I am in love with my Savior, it will show all over my face. It is impossible to truly love someone that you do not know, and in order to know Him I must spend time with Him. It is that simple, yet it is that hard.
If I think the process of transforming is not going to be met with resistance then I am delusional. When my alarm goes off at 6:00 so that I can spend time with God before the rest of my family is awake, the battle rages. Too often I hit the snooze button 1, 2, even 3 times. Always I regret it. When I stumble into my kitchen to pour a cup of coffee, the temptation to put away dishes, throw away wrappers left on the counter, or even glance at Facebook all threaten my commitment to sit at the feet of my Savior. It is a daily battle, but one I realize now, more that ever, that I must fight and win. My ability to love well, to live abundantly, and make decisions that honor God all hinge on the strength of my relationship with Him.
It is hard, but I know it is worth it. God will use me if I am willing, if I am humble enough to realize my desperate need for Him. I cannot afford to put Him off. Time is marching forward and my kids are growing up so fast. The world around us is swirling and angry and the only remedy is Jesus.