I'm sitting here, drinking a cup of Milo this morning, and it takes me back to the year that I turned thirteen. For a few months of that year I lived, along with my sisters, in a Missionary Kid (MK) Home where I boarded while getting my education in town.
I was not your poster child for boarding schools.
I did not handle the transition to a new way of life very well. I often pushed back about the MK Home parents' rules as I thought "that's not how we did things at home."
The predictability and stability of life as I had known it had changed.
My normal routines were disrupted.
And even though I found the new youth group and being around other young people exciting, I often had stomachaches that underscored my anxiety and homesickness. I even remember plotting how I would run away so that I could return home to Sanyati.
I also remember a sweet memory. In the mornings, my fifteen year old sister, Sharon, would get up early. She would make hot cups of Milo for us and then come to wake up Susie and me. She would then read a devotional thought for us from Daily Light and pray with us. Once we were dressed in our school uniforms, she would let us choose our hairstyle for the day, and then she would take the time to give us one or two french braids or the pony-tails we desired.
Although just a teenager herself, Sharon spoke care and love into our young hearts. She demonstrated that she saw us in an unsettled time and that she cared about us. She valued us enough to care not only about our spiritual lives, but how we looked, as well.
In addition to all of that, she listened to me talk. Anyone who knew me then, knows that my emotional conversations were all over the place as I talked about boys and homesickness and boys and girl drama and boys and school and boys and youth group and boys. Looking back, I imagine that listening to me was probably more an act of service than getting up so early in the morning!
I still remember Sharon's acts of love, because I felt seen and heard and valued.
We all long for that feeling.
In 1905, Civilla Martin wrote a song that has remained popular to this day. The song was written after meeting a couple, the Doolittles, who both had significant physical problems--the wife was bedridden and the husband was paralyzed. When Civilla's husband asked the couple the reason for their bright hopefulness in the midst of suffering, the wife's response was "His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me." Civilla took that line and wrote the song "His Eye is On the Sparrow" that has ministered to so many over the years.
As you read some of the lyrics below, I think you will see that the idea of being seen and heard and valued comes through so strongly in this song.
Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come, Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home, When Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He: His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me; His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free For His eye is on the sparrow, And I know He watches me.
“Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear, And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears; Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see; His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me; His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free, For His eye is on the sparrow, And I know He watches me.
Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise, When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies, I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free; His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me; His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
The song is based on the words of Jesus that we find in the book of Matthew.
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
If the God who created the entire universe, cares about a bird that is often considered common and insignificant, how much more does he care about us?
I hope you have a few minutes to listen to this song.
I love that we don't walk alone. The One who is holding the world is also holding this moment.
He sees where we are today.
Maybe uncertain because of so many changes in a short amount of time.
Maybe adjusting to a new normal.
Maybe you are lonely during this time of social distancing.
Perhaps you are separated from a loved one who is working in the medical field in high risk areas.
Or, you are not able to visit that loved one in the nursing home or the rehabilitation center.
Perhaps the fears of this uncertain time have triggered some family members and they are not acting like themselves right now.
Whatever you are going through, I hope you know that the eye that sees the sparrow is also looking at you.
In His gaze, a hot cup of Milo is being offered to you.
There is love there.
There is knowledge of everything about you, but there is no condemnation.
His gaze shows how He values you and your life.
His eyes show He is interested in the things that interest you, even if they are as drama filled as thirteen-year-old Sheila's interests.
May you take time to look into His eyes today.
What memories do you have of times when you were seen and valued and loved? Are you able to draw hope from the One who holds tomorrow? How does knowing that God sees the Sparrow encourage you? Is God calling you to reach out to someone else today to demonstrate love to them like my sister did to me?