I vividly remember the day I was working in a United States hospital as usual. I was asked to see a patient who had been brought in from home with significant debility. I am often asked to work with the medical team when there is concern that someone is failing at home and needs more help than they have.
I walked to the connected building where he was being treated. When I got to the room, he was in contact isolation which means staff put gowns and gloves on to help prevent spreading infections to staff or other patients. As I read the chart, I saw that he had lice and open sores on his skin. I was surprised that the nurses were wearing masks and asked if he had a respiratory infection. One nurse stepped out and explained that staff worse masks because of the smell; he had not been bathed and cared for in so long, and his sores were oozing.
I came in ready to introduce myself. As I entered the door and turned to the right to face him, I took the scene in visually in what felt like an instant. There were two nurses cleaning him and caring for him. He was clearly the most debilitated person I had seen at the hospital. His arms and legs were contracted and he was unable to straighten his joints. He had obviously been bedridden. He was so thin. I remember thinking "This is like a man Mother Teresa would take in from the streets."
Just then I felt God at my right side whispering in my ear. He said, "Theresa, do you see him." "Yes God," I said. "I feel so sorry for him." God said, "Isn't he wonderful! I created him. Isn't he wonderful. I love him so much. He's my favorite!"
That moment changed my life.
I knew God was not closing His eyes to the suffering of this gentleman, but in that moment He was gazing on him as he created him. His Father's gaze saw His son, His wonderful creation. Just like the good Daddy He is, he saw this man as a child, running and jumping on His lap. God said, "There you are! I missed you! Oh, I love you. You are my favorite!" and then he would jump off and a little girl would run up. God would say, "Oh, there she is! My favorite! Oh, there's my girl." And so on the dance continued, children coming and going. All His creation, all His favorite.
It hit home...Every person I interact with is God's wonderful creation. All people were created for good. They were created with identity in Him, with destiny, and purpose. They were created to proclaim beauty for ashes, joy for despair, and resurrection to the dead. Kings and Queens, paupers, plumbers, CEOs, soccer moms, divorced dads...those in prison, in shelters, in mansions, in stone cottages...those revered, those criticized, those seen and unseen, those claimed and unclaimed...the woman who stole from you, the man who betrayed you, the parent who let you down, the political figure you despise...all were created to be representatives of the King. They were created to be filled with the Holy Spirit to speak peace, healing, and blessing everywhere they go. When you interact with them, you are speaking to God's beloved, His creation. He longs for them to be close to Him always, He chases after their heart so they be not deceived by the Deceiver, He invites them into his flock like a Shepherd, He longs to give them Life forever...God's longing for His people to be near to Him--Longing in the manger, Longing on the cross, Longing from His throne. He is a God who longs for his people to be restored to Him.
Even when others don't know who they are in Christ, can we look at them and know that what the Psalmist said is true for them as well...
Psalm 139 v 6
It is the most amazing feeling to know how deeply You know me, inside and out; the realization of it is so great that I cannot comprehend it.
Does this woman know that God shaped her? Do we treat her with that knowing...
For You shaped me, inside and out. You knitted me together in my mother’s womb long before I took my first breath. I will offer You my grateful heart, for I am Your unique creation, filled with wonder and awe. You have approached even the smallest details with excellence; Your works are wonderful; I carry this knowledge deep within my soul.
When kings and princes rule the earth, can we pray they will know their Eternal King and Creator...the King who is the Longing King.
O Eternal One, You have explored my heart and know exactly who I am; You even know the small details like when I take a seat and when I stand up again. Even when I am far away, You know what I’m thinking. You observe my wanderings and my sleeping, my waking and my dreaming, and You know everything I do in more detail than even I know. You know what I’m going to say long before I say it. It is true, Eternal One, that You know everything and everyone.
Can we live with the knowing that people who are different from ourselves are cherished by our King; He created them and has thoughts and plans for them...what treasure, what value, and joy!
Your thoughts and plans are treasures to me, O God! I cherish each and every one of them! How grand in scope! How many in number! If I could count each one of them, they would be more than all the grains of sand on earth. Their number is inconceivable!
If we could live with the glistening knowledge that everyone, everywhere has been created by and is important to our King, would we interact with others differently?
If we could look beyond what we "know" of them now in this lifetime, and see how God created them to be, could we call out the gift and destiny and life God deposited in them?
How would the world be different?
(all scripture from The Voice translation in this post)