Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Renew A Right Spirit In Me

“Hey, Missy, do you know Jesus?”

I was 7 years old. Both my parents worked; so, I had to walk to and from school by myself. I don’t remember any lecture about strangers. If I was told about the dangers, I quickly forgot them when an elderly black man halted me in midstride to ask me a question.

“Hey, Missy, do you know Jesus?”

I was walking past a large cotton mill in Rome, Georgia. When I stopped, he motioned for me to come and sit down beside him. I realize now he was sitting on a retainer wall leading down to a docking bay for delivery and pickup, and he was probably on a break or waiting for the next truck to arrive.

His smile was infectious, so sincere and welcoming. I didn’t hesitate to join him. Seeing I was too small to join him on the wall, he jumped down and hoisted me up. Then he joined me.

“Have you ever heard about Jesus?” He asked, smiling at me again.

I just shook my head. Curiosity killed the cat, as my Papa would have said. I wanted to know who this person was.

“Jesus was a great man. He taught us love. We are supposed to tell everyone about this love.” Then he laughed. I could hear it bellow over my head. A deep, throaty laugh, deep like his voice.

That day began a meeting every afternoon for what seemed like forever, especially now. I remember his voice and his words. He would tell me stories about Jesus. Then he would start the drill. All I remember are the first few names he had me recite, “Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, Paul, Jude, and James.” I tried so hard to memorize them just like he said. I wanted to please him so he would tell me more stories about Jesus and the people that knew Him.

This beautiful black man has stayed in my memory for almost 60 years. If he told me his name, I have forgotten it, but I’ve never forgotten his attention and the powerful words he shared with me. I’ve often wondered if this was God’s way to begin my journey into faith. Seeds planted that have grown and grown because one man decided to tell me about Jesus.

The year was 1957. I didn’t know anything about racial tension or color bias. I was a 7 year old girl who met a man who was living out his commission in life: spreading the gospel of Jesus to all who came across his path.

Isn’t that what we are supposed to do? Nothing matters more than for followers of Jesus Christ to keep the Words written in red close to our heart and proclaim Jesus’ victory in our lives. We’re to share Jesus’ love with everyone regardless of who they are.

“Call out for insight, and cry aloud for understanding.” (Proverbs 2:3)

Become more interested in a person’s character rather than the package they are in. Look beyond the color or disability or size and into their heart. It might seem too simple to change the explosion of racial tension that is threatening to implode our country, but we need to stop running down the agonizing road of hate and dissension. It didn’t work in the ‘60’s and it won’t work now.

How do you view people? By color? By faith? By actions? By sin?

Take these to Jesus and let Him guide you through scripture for a fresh revelation.

Our hearts are messy with sin, weakness, and judgment. We feast on selfishness, pride, and ambition. On our own we can accomplish nothing, but with Jesus we can conquer the bitter bile of racial conflict and social tension.

Lord, create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from Thy presence;
Take not Thy holy Spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation;
And renew a right spirit within me.

God bless you,

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful memory! And what an impact on your path to Christ! He was a real disciple doing what we all need to be doing!