So I have a beautiful friend, her name is Christine.
She is a marathon running doctor in training with a heart for the poor. This year she has had cancer. Maybe an excuse to take it easy for a while, curled up in a ball of self pity? Not C, She is probably the most inspiring person I know. In the middle of her chemo treatment at her most vulnerable Christine went to a birthday party. The party was for our friend Chrissy (keeping up?!) Chrissy is a woman that we met three years ago doing a soup run on the streets. Chrissy is a story in her own right, a woman with the most amazing heart yet she has been through more in her life time than I (and probably you) could imagine. She currently has diabetes and a liver condition brought on by her alcoholism which in recent years has led to her being frequently in and out of hospital. Last year she had to be shocked back into life after dying because of a drugs overdose. The party wasn't exactly the safest venue for a girl in her early twenties, but C stayed, even after a dealer showed up, scared but also convinced that she was meant to be a light in that place.
Today we visited Chrissy in hospital and I was overwhelmed with what I saw, she couldn't wait to introduce us to her friend Irene. Irene a beautiful lady of 80 is bed bound and childlike in her unawareness. Since being on the ward Chrissy has befriended her. Today she brought her a teddy bear just to see the expression on her face when she opened it. The love she showed this virtual stranger was incredible, she leaned in to give her a cuddle and a kiss, explaining that showing and receiving physical affection was Irenes favourite thing to do. Chrissy was the first to recognise the indescribable worth in someone like Irene who the world has deemed worthless.
We ended the visit with my just out of chemo friend comparing cannula scars with a woman so bashed around by life that her very aliveness is a miracle. There is something so beautiful in the way that Christine and Chrissy have dealt with their suffering and illness. Both have made a decision to love others, to trust in a God they can't see but could no more deny than they could the raging Sheffield wind.
I saw Jesus first hand today working in and through a drug addicted ex prostitute who he loves and values more than I'll ever be able to comprehend. And I was left with the distinct and terrifying feeling that this is what citizens of heaven should look like. Messy and unafraid or perhaps just unable to hide our brokenness. Known only by the earth shaking love we show for the vulnerable around us.
I firmly believe that God sees people very differently to us and I am praying that he will open my eyes too.