“Let’s move all the chairs into a circle,”
The classroom erupted into momentary chaos as everyone grabbed their notebooks, Bible, water bottle and chair (all at the same time) only to then struggle to make a vaguely circular shape. There’s a sense of excitement but also slight apprehension as people settle back into their seats and try to quiet down. There’s nervous giggles and quick glances around the oval ring of chairs. Everyone wants to know what the speaker is going to do. We all know that the speaker must have a good reason for causing such a disruption. He sits and waits patiently for everyone to settle down, place their things back under their chairs and hush conversations.
“I want you guys to look around the circle and pick a person. Once you’ve picked a person, I want you to think about how you’ve seen Jesus in them this past week.”
The atmosphere changes and people realize that they’re about to be encouraged. A slight tension still lingers as they quickly realize they also have to give encouragement. For some reason we all love to be encouraged, but it’s hard to give encouragement. We feel too vulnerable in that moment. Awkward, even. We feel like we might get it “wrong” – like encouragement could be a bad thing. So there’s a long pause. No one wants to speak up first and yet everyone wants to be the first to get encouraged.
Finally, the first brave student breaks the silence. And slowly but surely, the affirmations start to make their way around the circle. People are taken aback by sincere words and the general morale of the group is lifted.
Then someone says my name.
I snap my eyes over to look into their face. I have no idea what they’re going to say and my heart is pounding like crazy. For some ridiculous reason, I’m nervous. What could they possibly say? How have they seen Jesus in me? It’s almost as if I begin to doubt that Jesus lives inside of me. A thought just about crosses my mind: there’s no way they’ve seen Jesus in you…
I have to shove down the lies that come up to take away the kind words that haven’t even been spoken yet. It’s a never ending battle. I have to coach myself to receive the encouragement this sweet girl is about to give me.
I sit there and study her face, nothing but genuine care in her eyes, as she talks about how she’s seen Jesus in me through the past week. There was no spectacular moment she mentioned; no act of great kindness or display of love that she pointed to. Instead it was a simple, “I see Jesus in you just by how you live each day. It’s like you’re walking through your day, holding God’s hand and before you do or say anything you look up at Him and ask if it’s ok. That’s how I’ve seen Jesus in you.”
I was blown away.
There is no way she could have known.
There’s no way she knew that that has been my heart’s cry for over a year. I’ve longed to have a relationship with God that is simply seen in how I walk through the house, how I speak to people, how I make decisions. There’s no way she knew about all of the hours I have spent praying and asking God to give me a heart like that. There’s no way she knew.
I had to sit in shock for a moment.
Slowly, I began to believe what she said. Could it be true? And in that moment, it all became worth it. All the struggles, all the victories, all the hours spent silently sitting with God. I felt like a little girl who had just created a finger-painted masterpiece. She runs up to her Daddy and says “Look Dad! Look at what I made!” I wanted Him to be proud of me, to show Him what I had made. But really, I know that it was all because Him inside of me. And I was so thankful and in awe of how He allowed Himself to be seen through me.
As the encouragements continued, I was just amazed by how God reveals Himself through His children. It’s just like biological kids. Some might have their Mom’s nose, another might have their Dad’s eyes. The same is for us as Children of God. We each reflect a different piece of His character. Some of us show God through how we work. Some of us show Him through how we treat others. And others show Him through their joy. I looked around the circle, realizing that we’re all unique and yet we’re all Children of God and He is seen inside of us – even in ways we might not realize.
So let this story be an encouragement to you, my friend. Keep striving to become more and more like Jesus. You may not even realize how people see Him through you!