I had been saving seats next to me in the crowded auditorium when I realized my friends weren’t going to make it. So I told the usher to allow two of the people outside to come in and take those seats. Two well dressed women came and sat next to me. You have to understand, this event of Nine Lessons and Carols at the international school was one of my first experiences here in Jos when I came to visit Zach before we were married. It’s so precious to me that I just melt into my seat and revel at the lights and the people singing my favorite hymns (even if they do it with the British tunes). This year each of the readings was even done in a different language! Languages mixed with Christmas? It was the best!
During a very touching song, as tears just started to spring into my eyes, the women I’d welcomed into my space started talking. I gave them a “look,” and turned my rapped attention back to the song being performed. These women didn’t stop talking! I mean, my twins were wandering and clamoring on my lap, but they are three years old! I was indignant. I shot them another look, and with a loud sigh, I moved and sat heavily on the step in the isle. I felt so justified in my annoyance, balancing on the brim of anger. But at the next reading, I had to release it.
“In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together;
the leopard will lie down with the baby goat…
Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes without harm.
Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,
for as the waters fill the sea,
so the earth will be filled with people who know the Lord. (Isaiah 11:6;9)
In this culture to have a guest, which is what I am here, sitting on the floor is not really acceptable. I invited these women to come and sit with me, to enjoy the beauty of that moment together, side by side, but they were distracted and refused, and drove away the guest in their midst to a place of dishonor. It struck me how unChristlike my response was.Thankfully when he, a visitor in our world, found himself driven away and dishonored by those he’d invited into his own beauty, he loved, moved closer, and then he died for them.
This season calls me to a new level of not being offended, of loving because Jesus loved me first, taking the humble position of criminal and rejected one in my place. If the knowledge of the LORD is to fill this place as the waters fill the sea, it will need to start with me!