Ahhhh…I could feel my body start to relax; soon we would be on a plane and officially beginning a period of rest. Vacation can be the most beautiful word in the world. Before we headed off for a couple weeks of desperately-needed respite, we were in the capital city connecting with our head office and appreciating the opportunities of the big city. Coming from a small village in Central Asia, even having the opportunity to go to a restaurant was a luxury.
As we were driving through town a golden arch appeared, plastered to the side of a building; a chorus of excitement broke out from our son and daughter in the back seat. I tried to explain that it was not the same version they had experienced in America, but no amount of convincing could stop them from wanting to go anyway. So we went.
I trudged up the staircases, noting the dirty carpet; this did not bother me. It was late spring, and mud permeates everything this time of the year. We entered the mock McDonald’s. My mind ran through all the franchise laws this place was probably breaking, but I also recognized the fact that we lived in a place where McDonalds did not want to even tackle the legal system.
We were seated at a table, and I was enjoying just being able to sit down together as a family, when my eyes fell on the tablecloth. It was filthy. A layer of grime and residue seemed to be permanently embedded into the fibers. I glanced at the other tables, thinking that it was just the one at which we were seated and that we could move to another, but they all appeared to contain the same amount of dirt.
What does the kitchen look like? was all I could think, and, Can we really eat here? My mind began to run through all the issues and problems with which our host country seems to struggle; I of course was focused on the negative. I ended up with, And they can’t even keep tablecloths clean in their restaurants! I smugly rejoiced that I was leaving it all behind, at least for a bit. Suddenly, my negative thoughts and feelings were interrupted by the little voice of my not-yet-three-year-old daughter.
“This is the most beautiful restaurant I have ever been in!” she whispered to me.
Shame began to wash over me. I looked at the things at which she was gazing. The disco ball in the corner of the room, with its red, blue, green, and yellow lights dancing around the room washing us in a rainbow of changing colors. The plastic red roses in vases, gracing each of the tables that were covered in intricately-designed tablecloths with gold and green patterns. The shiny, draping curtains that sparkled when the lights bounced off them. I could then grasp from her three-year-old point of view why she thought it was so beautiful.
I am so glad that God can see through my muck to the person that I truly am! I can carry around a lot of grime, negative feelings, and bad attitudes, but He looks past my rawness, my mistakes, and my poor decisions. He sees something worthy of redemption; He sees something beautiful.
I want to do the same. I want to catch glimpses of what God sees; I want to do this for the host country and culture in which I live. I want to do this for my family and myself. This is not because I am unrealistic about the brokenness and the corruption that happens in every culture and in every person—it is because I want to live in hope.
I suspect God’s point of view is much more like my three-year-old daughter’s, appreciating the red, green, and gold of a disco ball, despite the dirt.
Question to consider: How do you appreciate “the red, green, and gold of a disco ball, despite the dirt”?