He smiles, his blonde hair shimmering in the sun. I push him higher and higher as he laughs, with laughter bubbling forth: his eyes sparkle. He cannot contain his joy…and neither can I, because I chime in, laughing with him. Egging him on and provoking him, tickling him. Making him laugh harder…harder…harder. He loves the swing.
Then he points his stubby little finger. And when he points his finger, that can only mean one thing: he wants something. And he will do anything to get that something. To have his way. He will pull your hair, tug on your shirt, dig his nails into your skin. He folds his legs and drops to the ground, deadweight. And he will stay there. Until you take him to the place that he wants to go, as he grabs onto your arms with his hands. His wet, slobbery, this-ain’t-no-ordinary-thumb-sucker spit, drenched hands. It’s all fun and games until he touches you…until he touches me with his slimy, wet hands.
But that’s what I signed up for. Isn’t it? And it’s a given, working with Special Needs kids. There will be pee, there will be poop, there will be biting and there will be drool.
Some days I can’t take it. My back hurts from carrying the burden of so many kids, those that can’t lift themselves, and those that can – but just refuse to. Because they’re spoiled, and they’re cute…and it’s our job to take care of them. And so, we pick them up anyway. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to dress myself up…nicely, very nicely. To do my hair and makeup—to wear that cute dress…to wear the cute shoes. To have a job where I can just look good. Be myself, express myself. Some days, I wonder…when my shift will be over. And I mean over, over. When my last day at the job will be. I wonder what it will be like to clock out and never go back—to not have to wash my hands one hundred and fifty times in one hour. Scrubbing the drool off of me, off of my clothes. Out of my hair.
But then. I think of the times when I am pushing him on the swing…higher and higher. And he is smiling harder and harder. Laughing, filling himself with joy. His blonde hair dancing in the wind…as he looks up to me with that crooked smile. That crooked smile that melts my heart. Who knows when his next smile will be…does he laugh like this at home?
The least of these. Jesus talks about them in the Gospel; the book of Matthew, chapter 25, verses 31-46. He talks about them all through-out the New Testament. God’s heart is for them, and bent towards them, through-out the whole context of the Bible. And even today, in the here and now.
He loves the beggar, the broken, the slave, the leper, the sick, the mentally retarded, the physically seized, the invalid, the Samaritan, the poor, the prisoner…the least of these. And He loves them with an unconditional love. Not a love that says, “You can smile at me and it will be okay. I will push you in a swing and we will keep it at that. Just don’t touch me…I squirm at the feel of your drool sliding across my hand. And the smell of it. The nauseating smell of it. I love you, but just don’t touch me.”
I’m sorry. But this is the God-honest thought process that I partake in at my job.
How many times will I choose my own luxury over the least of these? My vain efforts mean nothing if I am in it for the wrong reasons. In it to be seen by the right people. In it, partially. Giving only my heart, but not my mind…or my body. In it to give money to, but not to hug and hold the impoverished, unshowered hungry girl with lice in her hair.
Jesus talks about them—the least of these—in the Gospel; the book of Matthew, chapter 25, verses 31-46.
“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
I wonder how many times a week Jesus extends his hand towards me, reaching out from the body of a beggar…longing, hoping…desiring that I would see through the rugged face and slashed clothing and look to the heart of the person, and see them for who they truly are: a Child of the Most High King. A beloved, in the eyes of Jesus.
This isn’t just about me. This is about you. This is about us and this is about the condition of our hearts. We must fix our hearts, we must fix our eyes on Jesus, we must agree to be transformed, we must care. We gotta. And not just partially. No. We need to care, with everything that we are and everything that we’ve got.
Boy, you can tug on my shirt all you want. You can hold my hands all that you want. You can pull on my arms all that you want, all that you need. And when you touch me with your drool, I won’t flinch, I won’t think twice of it. Because I love you just the way you are. I won’t deny you Jesus…I won’t deny you, least of these…
For more by the lovely Rae Marie Brown visit her blog: http://www.imchasingkitetails.com/