One thing almost intrinsic in me that Daniel and I do NOT share is a fondness for German music. I’m guessing I began appreciating it, and the country, the year my family spent in the small town of Enkenbach when I was ten, my father’s company sending us over there. In my fifth grade class in the Army school my brother and I attended, we had German language instruction. I don’t honestly remember if Frau Schultz came in daily or once a week to teach us, but, perhaps incredibly, I do clearly remember a song and a poem I learned that year. (And why, I wonder, can’t I remember how to differentiate and integrate sines and cosines, something I learned much later?)
My memory actually was useful two weeks ago, when I was getting up to move from the lateral machine to another in the recreation center. I started toward the supply of disinfecting wipes, but the woman approaching the lateral machine told me not to bother, as she had her wipe handy. I detected an accent in her voice and asked where she was from. When she replied German, I said , “Vielen Danke. Voraus stammen Sie?” That began a conversation – auf Englisch – and we quickly found in common that we’d both worked at a zoo, cared about the environment, and loved God! I gave her a copy of my book that I “coincidentally” (as if there are coincidences with God!) had in the bag I’d brought with me.
Earlier this week I saw Ilse at the rec center again, walked over, said hello, and again began a conversation. That silly song I’d learned in fifth grade came into my head, and I began singing, “Fuchs du hast die Gans gestholen, gib Sie wieder her …” and Ilse joined in the song. The song about a fox that stole a goose isn’t important, except to lead into the truth today that all around you are absolute gems on two legs, treasures in the people around you.
Ilse has been a gymnast, dancer, model, actress, music instructor, composer, and zookeeper! On Friday I called her and popped over to her house for a short visit. That’s when I discovered so much inside this amazing woman.Most importantly,though, we shared our hearts and from our spirits, connecting at a personal level so quickly because we both knew God had been instrumental in our meeting.
Though the precious people of Zion were like fine gold, how they are valued like clay vessels, the handiwork of a potter! Lamentations 4:2 NAS
5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of[c] faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 2 Corinthians 4: 5-14 NIV
Money and power or influence seem to be the things we value and treasure in contemporary American culture. Too often we view other people for what they can do for us, how they can help us get ahead. If I see someone on the street who’s dressed poorly, do I automatically assume that person has no worth? Conversely, if I see someone dressed in nice clothing, and for women, with dangling earrings and fingernails and toenails painted to match her outfit, do I attribute more worth and value to her as a person? How clearly I see the rampant narcissism in our society, see how easily I myself am prone to make value judgments based on appearances! Lord God, deliver me from such materialism!
Two weeks ago Ilse was dressed in ordinary exercise clothes, just as I was, just as everyone else in the rec center. If I hadn’t thanked her and asked her a question, I would have “robbed”myself of a great blessing in getting to know her as a unique person created in God’s image, created with gifting and talents and kindness and a longing, as we all have, to be known,valued, and to know and value others.
What value does God place upon us?
Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.” Matthew 10: 29-31 NIV
You are treasured by God your Father in Heaven! And – perhaps amazingly to you – so is that person next to you on the bus or at school or at work or in the grocery store. Treasured not for their net worth, but treasured because they, and you, are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared to be part of your purpose before you were even a glimmer in your father’s eye, for good works, for advancing God’s Kingdom, for sharing the Good News about Jesus, for being a reflection of HIS love and mercy and caring and forgiveness, healing, deliverance, and HIS grace and HIS Truth on Earth. Ephesians 2: 10 Rose’s Paraphrased Version
Sing, Daughter Zion;
shout aloud, Israel!
Be glad and rejoice with all your heart,
15 The Lord has taken away your punishment,
he has turned back your enemy.
The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you;
never again will you fear any harm.
16 On that day
they will say to Jerusalem,
“Do not fear, Zion;
do not let your hands hang limp.
17 The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3: 14-17 NIV
Gott Sei Dank! Thank God that he opens our eyes to each other, and to the treasure He has deposited in each one of us. YOU are a treasure, and if you take time to open a conversation, so, I’ll bet, is that person next to you! Use things, LOVE people!
A”…BUT…” to pray: God,yes, I admit I’m shy, or afraid, or not caring enough to really notice the people around me and consider that You’ve deposited something priceless into them – not something for me to USE, but some treasure within who they are for me to discover and value. Even the ones not dressed like me, not driving a car, not in the same church I attend, from another country or neighborhood or ethnicity. Help me,LORD, to see others as YOU see them, and help me overcome my own _____________________________ to know that YOU value me just because I’m Yours! Holy Spirit, who do I need to notice in a new way today?” Lord, I’m listening _________________________________________