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01 August 2013

Someone Once said, "Love Has a Face"

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but I do not have love, I have become as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophecies, and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so as to move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give out all my goods, and if I deliver my body that I be burned, but I do not have love, I am not profited anything.      (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

Many years ago I had a dream in which people were caring for sick, weak babies in incubators. The caregivers were wearing gloves in order to avoid getting any of what may have been on the babies on themselves. Nearly 25 years of nursing history. Gloves are for protection, for the patient first, then the nurse. But in the dream it was obvious that the gloves were donned out of fear. A sort of "I don't want any of that icky stuff on me".

Some years later I heard someone speak about churches who didn't want the wounded to come in and bleed on their carpet. I watched as people wondered what to do with drug addicts and prostitutes poorly clad in the sanctuary. I cried in anger when a friend left the church in fear of her son having contact with girls in the youth group. I didn't understand. 

A word of consolation. The blood flows much deeper than any sin you have committed. The arm of the Lord is not too short to reach you in the bottom of the pit. Holy Spirit longs to hover over you, even when you find yourself in the dung heap, too weak to escape. 

He is Jesus and He will hold you close, in your unbathed state, full of disease and parasites. He will give you water to satisfy your thirst and He will feed you, one small bite at a time, when you've gone so long without nourishment that hunger no longer exists.

My hearts cry has long been for the needy in third world countries. It seems I am ever meeting more people who have 'been there - done that'. My heart delights in their stories. There is so much to glean.

And yet, I often find myself pulling aside with the Lord, crying hot, angry tears as the fear-filled words of men linger in my ears. 

I only want to hold them, Lord. I only want to be a conduit of Your love. Why would I go, if I would not come near? Why would I go, if I would not hold the broken and dying? Why would I go, if I feared the pestilence? You said it would not come near my dwelling place - that is this body - the temple of Your Holy Spirit. Why would I go, if I would not reach into the dung heap and draw out Your precious one?

Why would anyone go?

Recently, I came across a picture which others have difficulty viewing. I cannot, not, look at it.  The story behind the photo is that a journalist, Kevin Carter, had only 30 minutes to get as much footage as he could for a story he was writing. At a food drop in Sudan he began taking pictures and captured a small child coming from the dung heap toward the feeding station. This little one was emaciated, weak and unable to reach his destination. A vulture landed on the ground behind the child and the photographer captured the picture. The fate of the child? He crawled away, to a nearby bush and died. The journalist, having witnessed many atrocities in a very few years, took his own life months later.

The story has gripped me. The picture keeps me focused.

In our western world of more than enough, people often complain of poverty when they don't have what they want to eat, rarely because they truly have nothing to eat. However, the number of spiritually emaciated individuals is overwhelming at times. 

Those with spiritual parasites and filth so deep that the church doesn't want to get too close for fear that the pestilences might come near their house. Children crawling away from the dung heap in search of life giving food and water are watched from afar and left to die naked and ashamed, unable to muster the strength to make it to the feeding station we call church.

And all the while, with gloved hands and masked faces, the encouragement is to "Go", but fear warns of getting too close.  The call goes out inviting them to come in, but the weak and the infirmed can scarcely make their way. Those who do are often left to find the strength to partake on their own and required to wash before eating. A close eye runs to remove any possible stain on the carpet while a dignified nose turns away from the stench. Is the church guilty of standing in the door, not going in, nor allowing others to go into the presence of love Himself? Will we not spend enough time in His presence that we long to gather the broken and diseased in our arms and carry them in with us?

Whether here, from the air conditioned comfort of our plush homes, or there, in the dirt of desert lands, love must go. Love is compelled to go, to touch the untouchable, heal the broken, and release the captive. Love needs no rubber gloves and love knows there is no safe distance.
 
Love does not fear and love never fails...