This week, I’ve spent a lot of time asking God to fill me to overflowing with the Holy Spirit. I know that God has told us that if we ask, we will receive. And I trust that I have received. But today I church, I felt God had a special purpose in directing the pastor to speak on God’s gift of the Holy Spirit. He reminded me of the time Jesus reminded His followers that they all desire to give good gifts to their children, even though they are imperfect parents. “How much more,” Jesus said, “will your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”
After the English service each week, there is a special little “class.” It’s called “Talk Time,” and it’s just a 20 or 30 minute time for anyone who is curious about Christianity to come and hear someone the basics of the gospel, from creation to the fall to the cross to today. I’ve always wanted to stay and listen, but was somehow always rushed out of the church by some other activity. But today, being my last Sunday at this church for at least six months, I finally sat down in a pew near the back of the church to listen.
The volunteer who was doing the teaching/sharing was an American in his mid-thirties whose bellowing voice over the chatter of people mulling about the sanctuary reminded me of a traveling preacher from centuries gone by. His desire to share Jesus with this Chinese crowd was evident; his passion was written on his face. Around his feet, his four-year-old son was running about, pulling occasionally on his daddy’s pants, and adding his own commentary to what he had clearly heard his dad say so many times.
The father came to the point of explaining salvation: simply trusting Jesus with your whole heart, soul, and mind. He told the people that they may not feel like they understand the Bible, they may not think they understand everything about Jesus, and they may not understand Him enough to say, “I’ll follow You.” But at this point, the dad grabbed his son and tossed him up onto his shoulder, the little boy giggling and grabbing his father’s head.
“This is my son,” the father said. “He trusts me; he knows I will not drop him. But he didn’t always trust me; he had to learn to trust by seeing how I am always faithful to him over and over and over. Now, you are just a newborn Christian. You have to decide to trust God, and you will see Him prove Himself to you over and over and over. If my son wants to cross the street to get some candy on the other side, I tell him, ‘No, don’t cross the street.’ He doesn’t understand my reasons, but he knows that I know the reason, and that is enough for him to trust me.”
I loved the beautiful truth in this father’s analogy to God as our Heavenly Father. But God wasn’t finished with my little lessons for the day.
After eating lunch with some friends, I walked back to the church because I wanted to buy some Bibles. There was a Chinese service going on, and the guard at the church door told me I’d need to come back at 3:00pm if I wanted to buy anything. So I decided to just wait for 45 minutes in the public amphitheater-like area outside building. I climbed to the top and sat down. Because of the cold, I was the only one sitting there, though many people walked by down below. A middle-aged woman and her toddler son came by, and the tiny boy looked up and saw me. He stared at me, obviously a bit curious about who I was and why I didn’t look Chinese. He looked down. Then looked back at me. Then down. Then back up. To my surprise, he decided to get a closer look. Pulling his mother with him, he walked step by step all the way up the amphitheater until he was right next to me.
I started a conversation with the boy’s mother, but the toddler never said a word. He just stared at me. Finally, he started to play with the railing behind me, and his mother told him to stop touching it because his clothes and hands were getting dirty. So he started fiddling with the trash on the ground, but that didn’t please his mother either. He started molding a piece of someone’s old gum into different shapes, and spread it out on the ground. He got tired and flopped down on the cement next to me just for a second, until his mother pulled him up to try to clean him. He toddled away, and did his best to climb under the railing, but got stuck halfway and squeezed himself back out, bringing a bucket-load of dust with him. Still silent, still very tranquil, he didn’t blatantly disobey his mom, but he clearly still wanted to do something interesting (and I guess interesting and dirty are synonyms in his 2-year-old thesaurus).
By the end, he was so dirty that the mother barely wanted to touch him, and did everything should could to, unsuccessfully, keep him from touching me. But as they went to leave, the little boy got scared of the big steps he had to climb down to go home. He reached for his mother’s hand. His chubby fingers were black, and his palms were covered in who-knows-what. His mother had done everything she could to keep him clean, and he hadn’t listened. But the spiritual parallel hit me when as soon as the boy cried out in fear, the mother firmly wrapped his tiny, filthy hand in her large, clean one. Together they walked home.
Our Heavenly Father loves us. He is perfect, but He was willing to come and be surrounded by our imperfection and filthiness so that He could lead us to Himself. And He asks us to trust Him, because He knows what is best, and is able to take us there. And He is ready and eager to bless us with the best gift He could ever give us; Himself in us, the Holy Spirit.
Don’t be a spiritual orphan any longer. Your Father is waiting for you to simply come. Just come.