Is it possible to look without love on the face of a child?
On these faces, born refugees in the Holy City of David?
Do you see their unworthiness? Their failures? Their filth?
Is it possible to look on the face of a child and see first that which cannot be loved?
Please look on them again.
I can’t. I can’t look on a child without wanting to touch their hair. To rest my hand on their head or cup their smile in my palm. To look in their eyes, deep, that they might know I see you.
For many years I have read My Utmost For His Highest, by Oswald Chambers. He is one of my favorite spiritual guides. But today’s devotional raises a theological viewpoint I wrestle with every August 22nd.
“The only conscious experience those who are baptized with the Holy Ghost ever have is a sense of absolute unworthiness.”
Throughout my life I have pushed back from this, that my conscious experience should be focused on my unworthiness. I am a creature bent towards self, trying to stand straight towards Him. Focusing my attention through the lens of unworthiness keeps me near-sighted when I’m desperate to look in the mirror and see Him.
I am unworthy.
I can spend the rest of my day solely listing my failures, my sin. I can move behind the thin veil of what is seen, the visible sins, to the thoughts that give power to my failings. Yes, I am unworthy. I am a failure. I am filthy.
But I AM says I am His child. I cannot believe my Father looks on me and sees first that which cannot be loved.
You are the children of the LORD your God…out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the LORD has chosen you to be his treasured possession. Deut.14:1,2
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there. Matt. 19:14,15
I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it. And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them. Mark 10:15,16
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! 1 John 3:1
I’m not talking about the reality of sin. I have come to the end of myself time and time again and find relief in my utter helplessness. I am a sinner, but I share life with a Savior. I don’t use unworthiness as a tool for humility. I spend more time in my home assuring my children they live as learners, prone to mistakes and failures, but not defined by them. Unworthiness is a heavy weight to bind me to another. I don’t want to be bound to as much as I want to abide with Him.
I walked with Him today. With my Father, my Jesus, and the Spirit. In my imaginings I left all my friends on the playground. Told them I’d be back after my walk and I intentionally laid aside all thoughts of people I need to talk to, bills I need to attend to, errands I need to run, and plans I need to make. The hand I placed in His was a child’s, the simple reality ~ where You lead, I will follow. I know my Father smiled on me.
I cannot compliment you, dear sir, and I am persuaded, that you will expect from me, only the simplicity of the christian. This simplicity leads me to say, only what our Lord gives me. You need more of this simplicity. The frequent self-returns you make, dwelling so much on your unworthiness, although it may have the appearance of humility, is only a refined self-love. True simplicity regards God alone; it has its eye fixed upon him, and is not drawn towards self; and it is as pleased to say humble as great things.
All our uneasy feelings and reflections, arise from self-love, whatever appearance of piety they may assume. The lack of simplicity inflicts many wounds. Go where we will, if we remain in ourselves, we shall carry everywhere our sins and our distresses. If we would live in peace, we must lose sight of self, and rest in the infinite and unchangeable God. These self-returns have a tendency to establish the soul more and more in itself, and hinder it from running into its great original. But it is to this, God is calling you. You withhold from God the only thing he desires – the possession of your heart. The time is short; wherefore spend it in the compass and surroundings of self? The single eye sees only God. You act as a person who being called before a king, instead of regarding the king and his benefits, is occupied only with his own dress and appearance. God wishes to disarrange you – to destroy self; and you wish to preserve what he would destroy. Be more afraid of self than of the evil one. It is the spirit of Satan to exalt self above God, and this spirit is fostered by these continual returns you make upon your own doings and misdoings, which leaves no place in your mind for the occupation of God.”
Forgetfulness of Self, Letters of Madam Guyon
If I, in my unworthiness, failures and filth, can’t help myself from looking on a child first with love, than how much greater is the love of God? She is beautiful, isn’t she? And I am to Him. I know God will keep grinding away on this lens until I see Him clearly. Thank you Favored One, for your ear. Now go find a mirror, as we pray for our sight.
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may
~know the hope to which he called you,
~the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
~and his incomparably great power for us who believe. Ephesians 1:17-19a