The other night we were singing before bed, and one of the songs was "This Little Light". E asked what it meant, and so we had a short discussion on how the world is a dark place, filled with sin and people who can't see Jesus because their hearts are darkened by sin. How our lives are to be like a light to those around us, showing them Jesus and how he is the true Light. We discussed how many people she goes to school with don't know Jesus, and that her life was like a little light to her friends and those around her. I am not sure how much of this she understood, and as I thought about it, I thought how hard it is for ME to be a light, to step into the darkness of other people's world and become vulnerable through sharing what I believe, especially when I fear what they will think of me. Today was one of those days.
At the bus stop, there was a new family, our next door neighbors who are renting the house for the next 3 years. They are from the Netherlands, and have trouble understanding the language. Their two children, 9 and 11 are in the school system here, and today was the first day of middle school for their 11 year old daughter. My neighbor, A shared with us at the bus stop that her daughter had been so nervous about school that she couldn't keep any food down, and was in tears about going (she had gone to school on an earlier bus). A was also clearly upset, as she told us this, about how she felt terrible for her daughter. My heart went out to both of them, the poor girl who had to go into school (middle school, no less!) not knowing anyone, having to change classes and all that entails, and on top of that not knowing the language that well. And the mother, having to send her daughter off to school, knowing she was nervous and upset, and feeling like she couldn't do anything to help. I left the bus stop thinking I should have invited A over for a cup of coffee, but I am babysitting today and it is all I can do to keep everyone happy. But after I came in, I let the boys out to play, put Addie down for a nap, and K was happy in my arms. The house was quiet, and the thought came to me again that I should ask her over. I looked out at the bus stop and saw that she was now walking back, and I thought of calling out and inviting her in, but hesitated when I looked around at my messy house-- definitely not "company worthy". Still, I felt a strong leading that I really should go invite her over. So I pulled some muffins from the freezer, popped them in the oven, got some coffee going and went out to the backyard. I sat on the hammock with the kids for a few minutes, thinking that I had every excuse not to ask her-- maybe she was busy and wouldn't want to be bothered, I had my hands full of children, and there was my toy- strewn, dusty, cluttered house. But I thought "Jesus can use me, even if I have a dirty house and my kids are loud and things are crazy" so I prayed a short prayer that the Lord would help me with the kids, and I walked over to her door. She immediately opened it, like she had seen me coming. She was on the phone, clearly in tears, and I asked her if she would like to come over for a cup of coffee. She said she would (almost to my surprise), and she came over for the next hour and a half. Yes, the boys at times were loud and running around, the babies needed feeding and holding and I was conscious about the mess surrounding us. But we had a really good talk where I helped her go through the huge PTA packet that had come home from school yesterday, explaining each part. She went over to her house and got some pictures of her home in the Netherlands to share with me, and we even had a short discussion about Christianity. She said that she was a Christian, but it became clear that she wasn't-- she doesn't believe that Jesus is God, she doesn't believe the Bible is literal (her: "That part about Jesus walking on water-not true, no one can walk on water" me: "But he can because he is God" her: "No, I don't believe that. It is not true. He is the son of God, but he is just a man, a prophet.") I told her that we do believe the Bible is the written word of God, that Jesus is not only God's son, but also God himself, and that he came to earth to die for our sins. She said she didn't believe all that, but is interested in talking to me about it when she has a better grasp of the English language. She went home shortly after, very grateful for the time we had together. I have been praying for her daughter all day, as well as for A, and how I can be a friend to her, and point her to Christ through our relationship. I just pray that God can use me, despite myself and that I can be a light, even if it is a small flickering candle.