GOD LESSONS from LAVENIA - Justice & Mercy International


Sometimes…most of the time to be honest…I am the opposite of one of my heroes of the faith:  St. Francis.  It was Francis who coined the famous phrase, “Preach the gospel always, and if necessary, use words.”

I use words, but lots of them.  When asked to talk about an idea or belief, for instance, I rattle away trying to find the right words to convey thoughts higher than my theological pay-grade.  I specialize in making the simple, complex.  The more I try to get it right, the more convoluted my arguments tend to become.  Maybe the CIA should employ me to verbally extract State secrets from suspects by torturing them with my running commentary on the Scriptures!

More often than not, it is children who say the most profound things with the greatest economy of words.  Such was the case last week at our summer camp in Carpineni, Moldova.  Rolling Hills Community Church’s Connections Minister, Laura Chapman, was addressing a large group of children and asked them, “Do you know why we’re here?”

Had I been asked to respond to that question, I might have spoken extensively about God’s calling on our lives to take the gospel to all nations.  I could wax eloquent on Jesus’ love for orphans and his heart’s desire that we care for the fatherless.  But, of course, the question was addressed to the children, so I waited with everyone else to hear what they were thinking.

One precious, excited and totally engaged little girl with pigtails and an expression of sheer delight on her face spoke up first:  “You’re here to see me!” she said with glee in her native Romanian.  And in those few simple words, little Lavenia captured much better than I could the very essence of why our group of  volunteers traveled 5,000 miles to this remote little hamlet. 
Yes Lavenia.  That is exactly why we came to Moldova!  We came to see you!  Not to “do mission work.”  Not to “evangelize the nation.”  Nothing that grand and global, and frankly, impersonal.  Lavenia doesn’t know or care about that.  She just loves the fact that we came to see her, as do all the Lavenias waiting to be “seen”. 

I would guess Lavenia to be about 3 or 4 years old, but she already knows something inherently fundamental about the heart of Christ.  When he comes, he comes to see us…really see us. 

Children love to be seen.  As we get older and begin accumulating the heaviness of our personal failures, disappointments and rebellions, we tend to shrink back into the landscape to avoid being seen, just like our father Adam did.  We would do almost anything to avoid being exposed for what we’ve done and who we fear we’ve become.

Not so with children.  They love to see that you’re watching them.  So too, if we could reach down into the depths of their souls, do little men in sycamore trees and blind beggars and even women standing at the well with dubious reputations.  So too with us, if we would admit it. 

Our deepest yearning may very well be for someone with eyes that are kind and full of compassion to enter our lives and see us; understand us; forgive us; help us start all over again; to become someone clean and pure and carefree.  To become someone like Lavenia.  And that is likely what Jesus had in mind when he held his own Lavenia up to the disciples as the secret to greatness in the Kingdom of heaven, and suggested that old Nicodemus needed to be reborn.  And if you were to look in his eyes, I think you’d notice that they aren’t hard and judgmental like you might suspect.  In fact, you might notice that the reflection of your face in his eyes looks very much like you when you were 3 or 4 years old!

P.S.  It is often children themselves who can take you to that Person with the kind eyes.  Our website has lots of new children who want you to “see” them.  Sponsor one today and see where she or he will take you!

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