Wide-eyed wonder played on the four-year-old's face as he looked up in disbelief. Walking toward him was an old man, white beard touching his chest and round spectacles on the bridge of his nose. The boy looked from the man to his mom, looking for confirmation that this was Santa in his regular clothes.
I'd chuckled to myself that day as I watched this exchange from my vantage point on the elliptical machine at the Y; the same thought had crossed my mind.
"Did you ever see Me in him?", came the whisper softly.
"Uh, no," I'd thought to myself, confused. Then the Holy Spirit brought a picture to my mind of this same guy a few months prior. He'd been pedaling slowly next to me on the recumbent bike. His white undershirt was stained and had sweat circles under the armpits, dirty jeans on instead of work-out pants. His beard was matted, and the smell of him made me want to change bikes.
Not one of my finer moments.
"Did you ever see Me?" came the question again.
Jesus tells us what He looks like in Matthew 25:
He is the hungry and the thirsty.
He is the sick and the lonely.
He is the naked.
He is the prisoner.
He is the child on the playground with no mittens or hat. He is the single mom at Wal-mart hoping there really is a Santa to bring her kids presents this year. He is the old woman looking out the window of the nursing home, wondering if anyone will visit. He is the guy down at Frame Park huddled under the bridge. He is the smelly old man on the exercise equipment next to me.
"Oh Lord, forgive me. Forgive me. I didn't know..."
I let my thoughts trail off because I did know. I do know. Sometimes it's just easier to pretend we don't. Again the Spirit brought a verse to me..."You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. (Revelation 3:17)"
"Forgive me," I'd whispered that day, slowing down on my machine as my eyes welled up. It is a painful process, learning to see the world through Jesus' eyes, but it is a beautiful pain. I cannot look away anymore.
I am praying not only to see Jesus in others, but thinking that as I learn to do that, they might catch a glimpse of Him in me.