We Are Bearers of His Light (A Story about Stereotyping)

26 Aug

Acts 26:18, “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”

A recent retreat to the mountains with my son’s youth group reminded me, once again, of how necessary it is to guard our hearts from being judgmental.  We often aren’t effective at bearing the light of Christ to people whom we have prejudged as being a certain way.

Human nature wants to paste labels on other human beings because it is so much easier to deal with them as members of a groups (the old vs. the young, liberals vs. conservatives, Christians vs. Muslims vs. Buddhists vs. Wiccans) than to do the hard work of getting to know each person as the unique individual s/he is, made in the image of God.

I know that, yet I fall into the tendency more than I would wish to confess.

There was a snow tubing park at the ski resort we visited for a day.  My 19-year-old son was afraid to go on the snow tubes and stayed in the lodge initially.  He has Aspergers syndrome and can be subject to paralyzing fears.  I gave him some money to buy food and drink and went to the tubing park for a couple of runs down the mountain.

As the day wore on and turned to night (we had arrived late in the afternoon), I decided to return to the tubing park for some nighttime runs.  Joey’s friends talked him into going to the tubing park with us just to see whether he would consider a run.  Once he saw me go down once, he told me that if we would return to the lodge for his hat, which he had forgotten, he would go down the mountain on a tube.

Once we retrieved his hat, he and I waited in a long line of people entering at the end of the session.  We took the “peoplemover” (like an escalator without steps) up the mountain, dragging our tubes with us.  We even managed to dismount and get back on twice when the press of the crowds stalled the peoplemover.  He dodged the tube dropped by a child in front of him and I was the one who nearly got knocked over by it, as it rolled down the hillside!

Safely at the top, we dismounted and got in line.  Joey went as far as sitting down in his tube right before it was his turn to take a run and then he was seized by great fear.  Knowing he was in a state where he could hurt himself (he started trying to run down the mountain on the grass), I called him over, showed him a place on the grass, and told him to wait there till I got help.  There were so many people at the top at this point that I couldn’t get the attention of our two attendants.  So I took Joey’s turn and slid down the mountain to the bottom.

There were three attendants there at the end of the run, young adults not much older than Joey.  I explained our predicament and one of the young men said, “I’ll go get him, Ma’am.”  This young man had those huge ornamental holes in his ear lobes that, God help me, I have often associated with a person who is a hood.

This young man, walking on the grassy area of the mountain, went every step of the way to the top of the tube run, got Joey, and walked with him down a steep sidewalk that was installed next to the tube runs (I had not previously seen it).  He walked down hand in hand with Joey, calming him by promising to give him a cup of hot chocolate when they got to the bottom.  As they came up, I could hear Joey saying, “Without whipped cream, please.”

Truly this sweet young man proved himself to be “more righteous than I” (Genesis 38:26), helping my son, out of a pure heart, while I stood and remembered all the times I had judged young men who had holes in their ears like his.

I didn’t get a chance to share with him about spiritual things after that.  Maybe he is already saved.  I will find out in heaven.  I pray that is so, or will be so.

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