In the mud

Image: Tom van Hoogstraten

I heard a story the other day that told of a pastor going to a small African village to visit a woman from his congregation who had given her life to caring for the sick. As he walked with her through this ramshackle village with raw sewage flowing through the streets, he grew deeply unsettled.

As they walked into a hut, the woman took him over to a bed. In the bed was a woman, moments from death. He started to get a little queasy and backed away, unable to handle the heft of the situation he’d found himself in.

“Where’s God now?” wondered the pastor. Where was this squeaky-clean God he’d so aptly preached about back home?

He stood and watched the caregiver from his church gather warm, clean water. She soaked a rag in it and laid it on the woman’s brow. She knelt down on the mud floor and held the woman’s hand. She spoon fed her. She looked into her eyes and spoke to her from her heart. She listened to her.

As the pastor examined his doubt, he was struck with an epiphany…

What began to overwhelm him was not the death, despair, or poverty he’d witnessed. What overwhelmed him was the compassion. In this dark place, his congregant’s love and compassion were… bigger. Brighter.

The thing that had represented hell on earth moments before now represented Holy ground.

Was God an omnipotent, supernatural being that could be hesitantly conjured to work miracles?

No…

God was an ever-present Love that could be activated in the human soul at any time. God was not working from her office up in the clouds. She was working through this woman who’d willingly opened herself to Her.

There, knelt down before him in the mud was God, alive as ever.


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