One afternoon, our 15-year-old daughter called to tell me that she had met a really neat guy who wanted to know about God. Would I talk with him? I thought this would be a wonderful opportunity. "Sure," I said. "Bring him over."
An hour later, up drove our daughter on the back of a motorcycle, clutching a young man whose looks frightened me. His unkempt, dirty appearance was far from the ideal I'd held as a companion for my daughter. After the view I saw from my front window, I didn't even want him in the house.
Gulp. I was supposed to talk with him about God? I considered leaving through the back door, but my daughter was part of the package, so I stayed and faced the music. This was a challenge to love more.
I know that God is Love and that He has created His children in His own image. Each individual has a beautiful spiritual identity. Over the years I've felt the joy and healing that result when the true spiritual, Godlike nature of an individual is revealed through prayer.
As I looked at this teenager sitting next to our precious daughter, I needed to look deeper than what I was seeing. I began to notice that he expressed a gentleness and humility. He was patient, and as we spoke, more and more of his Godlike nature began to appear to me.
My prejudice took a few months to disappear, and there were many times I was tempted to give up on him. He had some tough attitudes that were difficult to see through. Sometimes I wished that he would just leave, but there was healing that needed to take place.
I love what Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper, wrote in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" about Jesus' ability to heal: "Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God's own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick" (pgs. 476-477).
Following Jesus' footsteps isn't easy, but I've found that it leads to a fuller understanding and love of life.
Everything we're faced with in our lives can impel us to look deeply for the spiritual substance of those we come in contact with. Hate and mindless evil are seen all over the world. But thought by thought, we can make a difference.
This young man kept coming back. His behavior was sometimes abhorrent. But we continued to try to see more of his spiritual, innocent nature as a child of God. After a few months, he moved on and we didn't see him again.
About 10 years later, he called our daughter. He said that he was a farmer, living in another state. He had become a Christian, was now happily married, and the father of five children. He wanted to thank our daughter for what our family had done for him.
He apologized for some of his actions and said that we had influenced his life more than anyone else had. He said that his family had been dysfunctional and that he'd been quite lost when he met us.
Sometimes I find the Christian demand to be "my brother's keeper" challenging. I consider it a calling to keep my brother's Godlike nature and place in my thoughts of him, even if what I see with my eyes seems ungodly. This is unconditional love in its spiritual essence.
More often than not, I don't hear the results from this silent loving. But the example of Christ Jesus continues to guide me and inspire me to continue trying to see what God sees. I make many mistakes, but I would want nothing less from those who think of me. This kind of loving can really make a difference.
Cause me to hear
in the morning; for in thee
do I trust: cause me to know
the way wherein I should walk;
for I lift up my soul