I was staying at Edith’s home for some three weeks. With a lovely home on the outskirts of Jinja, Uganda, there were many of us there. I had stayed there before, but this time Edith’s daughter was there with her little boy.
Victor was not quite two years old. A sweet little guy, but like a few of the littlest children, afraid of me and my strange white appearance.
Yet I was determined to make friends with him (longed to make friends with him), and he seemed to have the same notion. Every day, numerous times a day, he would skitter past my room, peering in through the open door-way, catch my glance and skitter away.
And every day he would come a couple of inches closer than the day before.
For the first week he would simply stand afar off in the hallway, looking and taking me in. And when I looked up to smile at him, off he would go. The second week he would come a touch closer, and stay a touch longer.
Now I wasn’t there all day every day, but at the start and ends of my days, and on my days off, Victor and I slowly developed a tentative rapport.
Generally speaking he was a bit of a fussy boy. And so there were tears and cries as he was put down for a nap, or when he wanted his Mama’s comfort or feeding, or when he was simply frustrated and feeling left out.
A lot of the time he wore only a small beaded belt around his waist, and in his beautiful baby body he toddled around the home, comfortable and free in his own skin, and as the weeks passed he finally got as close as the doorway to my room.
And then came my last Saturday in Edith’s home. Both Edith and her daughter were at the garden. I was home that day as were a few of the teen girls and a number of the children, Victor being one of them.
About mid-morning he became very sad with many tears. The other kids weren’t letting him play with them, the girls were preparing and cooking food, and his Mama was not there. What was a little boy to do?
I saw that maybe my time had come. Slowly I approached and scooped down to take him in my arms. I cannot express the delight as he let me pick him up and take him on my lap.
We simply sat. He calmed down. I was thrilled.
We hadn’t gotten closer than four feet prior to this, and to think that he was letting me hold him was a grand breakthrough. From that point on we were true friends, with an easy snuggling on my lap each day till I left.
I wonder how much this story represents us and God. We are afraid and unsure, startled by who God is, and certainly not sure how close we want to be.
But when life gets hard, when our common comforts are not at hand, and when we are at our wits end, we say okay, I’ll come closer to you now. “Yes I’ll let you in.”
Thing is, this takes some time. It took Victor three full weeks to allow me to touch him, but we were in the same house all along. I was simply there, and he was curious but fearful.
Isn’t it the same with God and us? God is simply here, in the house, present and eager, simply waiting to extend love and care. We hold back. It is us who are afraid.
We are the unsure ones.
Notice the picture of Victor (above) taken near the end of my trip and after we had become friends.
Can you see the affection coming out of his clear eyes, his frank companionship and gladness of being as I took his picture?
He wasn’t afraid any longer.
And this is how we can be with God. Come near to God and God will come near to us.
Fear of the unknown, insecurity about the present, and all that holds us back, will fall away. For in God’s presence we are validated, and encouraged, and strengthened.
We are comforted, supported, empowered.
How much time will we allow to pass swallowed in our own uncertainty?
“God, I have no idea how to come near to you, but I ask that you show me how. You scare me, I am afraid of you, but I want to know you, I want companionship and rapport with you.”
We don’t need to bring anything other than ourselves to God.
Like Victor’s naked little body, we simply come, and stand, risking to be seen and to be held, and to be changed forever.