“Real religion is this - that which looks after the homeless and the orphaned in their plight…” James 1:27 (MSG)
I usually begin and end my day with time on my knees. In some cases, it’s about three seconds and in others, an hour or more. The requests and concerns vary and I do what I can to prevent time from being a barrier. The close of each prayer however is consistent with the same appeal - wherever I go and whatever I do, may I be poured out like a drink offering to those around me. The disconnect in this is always my idea of what that offering looks like verses what God says and when exactly, the call to act will come.
Recently, we were asked to “parent” a child who was not ours. It was only for a couple of days, but it took place on a weekend where we had planned a family vacation. As those closest to me know, triple digit work weeks are the norm. Any time off is a luxury and always designed with my immediate family in mind. This weekend was no different and as hotels were booked and excursions were arranged, a phone call in the middle of the night seemed to crush our selfish dreams of privacy and reprieve.
Jesus, in His most vulnerable state on the cross, beaten, bleeding, naked and humiliated, had the heart and the strength to look at His own mother, and command her to embrace John as a son. At this particular junction in history existed every right for Jesus to hang on the cross in private. The entire event should have been reserved for those closest to Him had He chosen. If there was ever a time to be alone, this was it. If there was ever a time in history to sit in the grieving room, and mute out the sounds of the outside world, the justification was now.
On the contrary, Jesus poured Himself out like a drink offering to those around Him. Without hesitation, He forgave those who knew not what they were doing, bleached the sins of the world, washed the feet of those who would later turn their back, willingly handed His mission to others and finished His race. Every, single, second spent with eyes vertical and a heart for someone else. Every, single, second offering a drink to those in desperate need of water.
My first response to the phone call was “no”. I needed the time with my family, and I felt the response was justified, and as I put my head on the pillow, my heart and mind played a game of tug-a-war as I did my best to blot out any conviction surrounding the reply. As my eyes came to a close, a question in the midnight air pierced the argument - “what if it was Levi? What if you weren’t here? Would you want to know another family was willing to love him and take him in?”
I sat straight up. My heart was immediately broken. My eyes were immediately filled with tears. The thought of him being unwanted was literally paralyzing. And as I began to apologize for my selfishness, another whisper exclaimed “pure and faultless religion is this. He is thirsty and you are the something-to-drink.”
To the other impoverished parents in the room who have done the same, my hat is off.