By Lydia Jentzen Will
I found it where I least expected it, which seems to be His way of waking me up. Taking normal, mundane moments in life to show how life always has a way of pointing right back to Him.
It was Sunday night and I was knitting and unwinding, watching a guilty pleasure of mine, “Call the Midwife”–a show about midwifery in post-war East End of London. Beyond the normal work of helping mothers and babies, the midwives and nuns on the show also assist in other social work endeavors.
It was during one of these that a poor little neglected boy was introduced to the plotline. A child practically abandoned by his mother, left alone to raise his sisters, including a tiny baby. A pathetic creature in every sense.
As the adults he encountered began to realize his plight, there was a moment when a policeman drew near to comfort him–and he shrank back. When asked why, his small voice rang loud and clear and commanded my full attention.
“Because I’m filthy. I know I smell and I’m ashamed.”
Suddenly I went from being a sympathetic viewer of this child’s plight to relating on a level I never expected to–and certainly the show itself never intended. Watching this little one recoil from relationship with another because of the filth and neglect in his life felt so very familiar to me–although not in the physical sense.
As the show went on and the good nurses swooped in to save these children, clean them up, and tuck them safely into warm beds, I was left turning his words over again and again in my mind.
It’s our sin and pain that keeps us pushing others away. It’s our shame that makes keeping Jesus at arm’s length seem to make the most sense. Even when we know our misery cannot get better without help, all we can see is our unworthiness, failings, and filth.
But when He marches in, throwing wide the windows and letting the cleansing light into the dark spaces in our lives, it isn’t to showcase our wretchedness. When He surveys us in our ragged state, it isn’t with disgust or loathing.
Instead, He lifts us in His arms, brings us out into the sun, takes us to a new home, and washes us clean. He clothes us in newness and takes our mess as His own. He saves us from every broken heart, every struggle, every defeat. He fills our hungry souls with His goodness and we shall not want for anything ever again.
He lifts us in His arms, brings us out into the sun, takes us to a new home, and washes us clean.
Through no good work or feeble striving of our own does this happen. Only by His grace, His sacrifice, His love.
Only by His death.
Good Friday is coming and I relate to a little post-war pauper, ragged and filthy and ashamed, worthless to anyone.
Anyone but a Savior.