In October of 2014 I visited the beautiful country of Haiti on a short term mission project. I had already connected to the little smiling faces on the organization’s website and in my daughter’s pictures from her previous trips.
I marveled at the kid—smiling at us, reaching for hugs, helping our team’s feeble attempts to converse in Creole, and playing games. Their openness blessed my socks off, and convicted me of my selfishness.
Some of the kids were very outgoing, engaging quickly in soccer, board games, even rap lessons! I had a very precious moment one afternoon after the kids returned from school. A sweet little gal about 4 years old came and pointed to my lap. I lifted her up and held her close. Soon after, one of her friends came close, and I gestured for her to join my lap space. I had not held two kids at once on my lap in quite a while! Well, when one more little lady came over and looked up at me with those eyes…the eyes that you can’t say no to…I decided to shift and add her to my lap! Three kids on my lap was a record for me! It was the first time I have ever wished that my lap was bigger!
These three princesses didn’t bicker or push at each other or squeal “I was here first”, or any of that nonsense. No, their little bottoms just kept shifting patiently to sit as best as they could on my petite lap space. And what a delightful hold it was!
One of my team members captured the moment, and that photo is a treasure. Four years later, gazing at this picture still impacts my heart. Sure, it was sweet to hold three little girls as if they were my kids. But today, what if I treated every child I came in contact with, as if they actually were my own?
The “trouble making” kid; what if I saw her as “my kid” instead of “that kid?” I wouldn’t want her judged; I’d want her understood and cared for. Who knows what battles she has been fighting.
The teens senselessly murdered in Parkland, FL; what if that was my teenager gunned down? What would I be passionate about in my grief and anger?
Children across the world, fleeing war in the arms of desperate parents; what if that were me and my child. Would I want him to be safe from bombing? Would I want her to eat? What kind of clothes would I want someone donating to him? Where would I be desperate enough to live with her, that I risked crossing borders or walking miles to hope someone would help us.
Larry Warren, one of my missionary friends, talks about looking for ways that our lives can intersect with one of the six groups Jesus mentions in Matthew 25; those who are hungry, thirsty, strangers, naked, sick, or imprisoned. When we do for the least of these, Jesus said we do for him. Literally, FOR HIM. That kind of living is radical, strange and sacrificial. But following Jesus was always meant to be sacrificial. Take up a cross and follow. Deny yourself. The blessing is promised at the end. A kingdom and an inheritance. In heaven, a lap of luxury for us all to sit in with plenty of room!
Three sweet girls. They only sat on my lap for a few minutes but they taught me so much: Simply make room for love—on my lap, in my home, and in my heart.