How many people know you? I’m not talking Facebook friends, or Twitter followers…I’m talking about being known by others. What you favorite food is…how you take your coffee…the true passion of your heart…your dreams…not a lot of people, right? We like to hide. A lot, actually. Walls are thrown on a regular basis, and we don’t know how to take them down. Mostly because as Americans we don’t trust others enough to share intimate information.
But…that’s now how God intended it. He created us for community with one another…and to crave to be known not only by him first, but by those around us. God knows us. Read this from Psalm 139:1-4:
“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.”
What a beautiful thing that could be creepy if you don’t have a real relationship with Abba. For me it’s not creepy, it’s what I love most about God…he chose me just as I am, and knew exactly what he was getting into.
At the end of last month, I was with the Woods Chapel Senior High mission team in Denver, Colorado. It was a full circle moment for me, because Denver was my first mission trip…ever. Crazy, I know. And we were at the Denver Rescue Mission at night to help prep dinner or serve, the same place I was 13 years ago…
What I love most about the mission is they stress conversation and 3 second eye contact. Why? How many people do you know who look a homeless person in the eye? Do you ever think about how small, belittled and disrespected it makes those feel who may have had no control over the situation that put them on the streets? How many people do they feel known by? Not many. Every time I looked into the eyes of one of the men getting a hot meal…I was blessed with a smile back. Who decides the worth of a man? Certainly not me…we are all equal in God’s eyes.
Our team for Russia is forming now and we get the incredible pleasure of spending time with the kids. Some of us have spent 4 years building those relationships through trips, and writing letters…one of the things the kids we see every year crave the most is being known. I hear a lot, ‘Please remember me.’ ‘Write me!’ ‘Take this to remember me by…’ And that last one is normally something we have given them…so they are gifting back, because it is the only thing they have to give, all so that they feel assured that we will remember them. And year after year, when we reference something from a previous trip, we are always given a look of surprise that shifts to a look of excitement…because we know them and love them.
I will never forget the conversation with one young boy one year when I compared a photo of him from the year before with how he looked them. As I told him how much older he looked and how much he had changed, his postured changed before my eyes to confident and assured. When you are an orphan…there are not many people who have known you long enough to compare how you have looked physically in previous years. Most of the kids don’t even have photos of themselves before they were in the orphanage.
There is also a young lady who plays basketball with her brothers outside the church. Every single time, I call her by her name and know the flavor of bubble gum she likes the best. It’s not much, but it’s an effort and that is what God is asking for…effort…not perfection, he gets to be the perfection and we get to strive to be better.
God’s mission is formed around community, and that community thrives on knowing each other. When that community steps outside of themselves to touch the lives of others…it is the act of making someone feel known that will guide the incredible love of God into the heart of another.