As I headed upstairs to get James up this morning, I heard him giggling… Normally, this is a sound that thrills my heart, but I know James all too well and at 07:30 in the morning it is rare to get so much as a grunt out of James…. Giggling meant trouble; my heart sank…
Sure enough, as I entered James’ room, an all too familiar scene greeted me (and my senses!)… James occasionally, overnight while he is relaxed and sleeping, does a ‘Number 2’. The good news is that he still wears a pad at night, the bad news is that if he wakes up early, he will start to play… Whoever discovers him in the morning will usually shout for help with the words “Brown alert!”
This morning, as I was once again cleaning James, his bed, his room, you surely can’t blame me for sighing (not too deeply… the smell!!) and wondering what other dads were doing at that time… Maybe enjoying their breakfast, or chatting with their family about what they all had planned for the day. Maybe watching the latest news over a cup of tea or coffee before heading out for the day. Not many would be clearing up poo…
My sigh didn’t last long though, certainly not as long as the unmistakable aroma that is still permeating every corner of the house at the moment despite having all the windows open! I was reminded of the new values that we are adopting at my home church in Bournemouth, to ‘Love like Jesus; Live like Jesus; Lead to Jesus’… Great values that are already proving to be helpful and inspiring at church, but which in a similar way have inspired my thinking this morning…
Thinking about how Jesus loved, lived, led (and served)… As I think of this more in the context of being Dad to James, dealing with the ‘yukky stuff’ that is the inevitable consequence of additional needs parenting, I can hear Jesus whispering to me… “I’ve done this, you can do it too…”
Think about some of the people that Jesus met; not just spending time with them but touching them, having physical contact with them. Not put off at all by the ‘yukky stuff’, his love being much greater than all of that. In many cases, culturally at the time, this was extraordinary; take for example the man with leprosy in Luke 5:12-14, someone who would have been seen as unclean and to be avoided at all costs by people at the time. Read v13, “Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing’ he said, ‘Be clean!’ And immediately the leprosy left him.” Jesus reached out his hand, and touched a leper…
In John 10:38-44 we see Jesus bringing Lazarus back to life… In v39 he asks for the stone over the tomb to be taken away, and is warned that after four days the smell will be bad. Not put off by a smell far worse than the one that greeted me this morning, Jesus persists, raises Lazarus, and restores him to his family.
Mark 1:30-31 tells us the story of how Jesus visited the mother-in-law of Simon (Peter), who was suffering with a fever. Again, he touched her, sick though she was, and as he helped her up the fever left her. Jesus was not put off at all by the possibility of catching a contagious fever that could prove fatal, his love was greater.
The Gospels are filled with Jesus loving people and helping them despite the ‘yukky stuff’… Of the 37 recorded miracles in the Gospels, 25 of them involve Jesus engaging with people who were sick, infirm, or disabled, and counter-cultural though this was for the time, their illness, infirmity or disability didn’t put him off at all. Now whether you believe in Jesus as the Son of God come to earth or not (I do), there is little doubt that how he lived, how he loved, how he led (by serving) those around him, was and still is inspirational.
As I finished cleaning James, his bed, and his room up this morning, I felt just a little closer to Jesus through the experience… My love for James is unconditional, it isn’t affected at all by what he does; neither is Jesus’ love for me. Living in a way that serves James, my family, my friends and others is living like Jesus wants me to live. He knows that I very often get things badly wrong and mess up massively, but he graciously and lovingly reaches out and cleans up the ‘yukky stuff’, the mess I’ve made of things, and keeps loving me no matter how many times I keep getting it wrong. That’s a role model I am inspired to follow! It’s a lifestyle that brings joy, fulfillment, satisfaction and love.
For each of us, we face a choice… what kind of life do we want? Do we want the ‘It’s all about me!’, ‘Because you’re worth it!’ self-centred, self-obsessed, self-serving life that is shoved at us all the time through wall-to-wall advertising? Shallow, worthless, unfulfilling and empty though it is? Or do we want to love, live and serve like Jesus, rolling our sleeves up sometimes to deal with the yukky stuff in our lives and in the lives of others, but knowing that through it all we are living a life that makes a difference, that is inspiring, that is deeply fulfilling?
I know what my choice is… now, where are those wet-wipes again?!
10th November 2017
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