He had to wait for us to go to him

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I’ve never really understood the fixation of many Christians seeing God Soft Hands Jesus in the homeless. 

I get that it suits a storyline, but GSHJ welcomed children, the possessed –  fat people, old people, thin people, rich and poor – Chosen and not Chosen, tax collectors, fishermen, Romans and the elite.  GSHJ meets anyone and everyone where they are and who they are.  He wasn’t fixated on anyone.  Not the homeless nor the religious hierarchy whom he met in debate and point scoring – their home ground – where they were – who they were.

I met “God” again last year at the bottom of our drive.  

Our two year-old grandson.  Not yet speaking words clearly.  But everything that is I Am: unconditional love needing no words – unconditionally understood – where we are  – who we are..  Now – from one day to the next – kept apart by Covid.  Yesterday normal.  Today separated by a chasm (not of “sin”) but of confusion.  This safe loving relationship torn down the middle by the officially required six socially-distanced feet.

Until then I’d always wondered why we had to be saved before God could truly love us.  Made no sense to me that I had to commit before getting loved properly.

That day I saw why.  I saw hesitancy, confusion, holding back.  I saw safety taken for granted every day of his two years of life now gone for all of us.  He saw those he loved and who loved him – but who were different.

He had no words to express his confusion. 

But his body language spoke volumes – his fleeting checking eye-contact – his tenseness –  his acute awareness of each of us – his behaving differently as we behaved differently. 

His natural instinct was to touch, hold and hug.  Yet he had to wait for us to go to him – to touch him and make this safe.  He had to wait for us to hold and hug him again.  Only then could he hold and hug back.

That is unconditional Love right there.  He didn’t demand or scream or fight or yell.  I remember the weird silence.  His silence when “normal” was constant toddler talk.  I remember the silence.  His and ours.

That silence hurt so much.  But we knew why.  He didn’t.  He knew nothing of Covid.  Nor did he know my sudden real fear that he would be my death in his touch and breath.  He was Love.  Nothing was a danger.  He was Love.  And suddenly we were but we weren’t.  We looked as though we were – we acted as though we were – but we weren’t.  We feared.  Our fear was new.  Our fear was real.  Our fear was greater than our Love.

And all he could do was wait.  Wait for us to go to him, to allow him to us.  He had no fear.  Only Love.

And even when that happened a week or two later – when I went to him again on that same driveway – me shielded from him in full PPE – me still with a barrier between us – even then he knew no fear.  Only Love.  Loving and being loved.  Stronger than fear.  Stronger than death.  Stronger than confusion.  Stronger than anything I have ever been, have had, or been given. 

I call this picture The Hug.  It lasted what seemed a lifetime then and lasts still in my heart and soul.  

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I was taught I had to be saved.  Say the right words.  Behave the right way.  Pray the right way.  Read the bible the right way.  Sit in church the right way.  Commit.  Tithe.  Volunteer.  Study.

Yet a two year-old not yet able to say any words at all, totally dependent, with no idea of the right or wrong way, who has never seen a bible or prayed a prayer, has never volunteered for anything, who is no good to any committee …

He showed me what all that bible teaching was about.

Showed me how fear gets in the way.  How “knowledge” gets in the way.  How knowing the bible, how to pray, how to gather together, how all that stuff I was taught as so very important … that stuff isn’t.

And he wasn’t even called “God” or “Love” – wasn’t and isn’t “homeless” – might grow up to be anything or nothing – become any personality or body shape – might have any sexual preference or none – might be massively rich, boringly okay, or terribly poor – he might be a believer or a non-believer.

But he will always be Love. 

We will always have that unconditional loving relationship he and I.  Even if how that looks to others might not be right or correct – too much or not enough – the wrong words or too much silence.

All that is just stuff.

The God I know is not in the bible – could be (and is) called anything – is anywhere and everywhere in my life.

Which is why Love is the closest I can get to making my “God” real to you.

Love is so much more than “God”.  Love is real and unconditional when I allow.  That is why I bang-on about Love so much.  Why “God” and “church” and “the bible” and all that “stuff” has become less and less for me.

It is why I hope you meet your “God”. 

You probably already have.

Love is everywhere.

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