Mango Hands and No Pants

When we pulled into the villages in Haiti for our workdays, the kids would literally come sprinting around the corners to greet us. I recognized them, not only by their faces but also by the same minimal clothing items that I had seen just the day before. There is one little boy that I can still picture in my head very clearly. He was probably around the age of three or four, and he came running towards us: no shoes, no pants, dust-covered, holding his most-prized possession – a mango, of which he ate down to the very last bite. I took one look and thought, “Please, God, I’ll hold anyone else. He’s a mess though.” It wasn’t long before those dark brown eyes dug deep into my heart and I could no longer ignore the gentle tug on my skirt. I scooped him up into my arms and witnessed his eyes light up instantly.

When I look back on this moment, I’m almost ashamed to share it. Was I really asking God to give me a “skip card” for who I should love in life? It is ironic how this three-year-old boy had more impact on my life in that one instant that I probably had on him. I really needed this reminder in my life. People are a mess, they’re sinful; they have a past that makes them dusty. As followers of Christ, we do not have a choice as to whether or not we should love them. Christ does the same for us. Whether you want to admit it or not, you are messy. I am messy too. Our sinful nature does this to us. 1 John 1:7 gives us the best promise though, “And the blood of his Son Jesus washes all our sins away.” I made the mistake of thinking that little boy was too messy for me, but Jesus Christ is never going to hesitate in embracing you no matter how big your mess might be. So I want to challenge you to do the same to those around you: spend intentional time with those different than you, converse with those you would normally turn away from, and pray for the messes in all of our lives. Love others just as Jesus loves you.

– Lisa VanderMeiden

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