“I heard a friend of mine say in his prayer, ‘Lord, if we don’t have a , then we don’t have a changed life.’” I quoted these words in a devotional several years ago and was reminded of them today. Let me share my own used-to-be story and maybe you will connect your own life with it?
Not coincidentally I heard a Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons song last week called, Rag Doll. It’s a tearjerker song that came out in 1964 about a poor, beautiful girl that was made fun of because of her hand-me-down clothes and the fact she was poor. True to life with children at that age and now, we are basically cruel toward each other. But God forbid that when we grow up, we remain so. Unfortunately, we see a lot of childish behavior now days that tells me that many people still haven’t grown up, and they negatively influence us today because they are in political office.
As I heard this song I was reminded of Wanda-Gayle, a little girl I went to elementary school with from 1st– 6th grade. We were in the same class the whole time through those years, which was a class of about 50 children. Wanda-Gayle was one of those little children like Rag Doll. She wore hand-me-down clothes from her brother. Nowadays adult women and children alike like put on ragged, torn jeans to accompany their $50,000 diamond ring, stiletto heels and stylish hair and make-up. I don’t get it, but I don’t find fault either. I think some style guru, as a crank, put such clothes on a beautiful model and it stuck. He’s been laughing all the way to the bank ever since. Pardon my perspective. However, I’m just conveying that when Wanda-Gayle wore the same thing, less the diamonds and other fashion accoutrements, she was made fun of. She was made fun of because they were boy’s clothes, and she was ragged and poor. Her father was an out-of-work, alcoholic mechanic whose wife left him with the children as she went to live a life of moral depravity. Get the picture about Wanda-Gayle? Remember anyone like her in your life? Maybe you were her?
As I close my eyes and see that precious little girl in my class, I see a happy petite girl with a sweet smile. I remember the things said about her and I repeated, and it now saddens me. I remember how no one would sit beside her and made fun of her as she listened to the teacher while smiling, … and I weep. I weep because I see things differently now. I weep for I now realize that she loved school, the other children, and maybe the only balanced meal she would get that day in our lunchroom? God removed my heart of stone and gave me a new heart as the verse mentions above, and it causes me to weep because of what I’ve seen, what I’ve done and because there are others like Wanda-Gayle out there.
One day her daddy came to school with her because all the parents were invited for a special day to be with their children. A monkey was on display and for a nickel we could see it. All the children were excited. I remember Wanda-Gayle holding her daddy’s hand and excitedly asking, “Daddy can we see the monkey?” The lady told her dad that it would only be a nickel. He had to say to the woman in front of his daughter Wanda-Gayle, “I’m sorry but I don’t have a nickel.” The lady allowed the man and Wanda-Gayle to see the monkey. But one more spear into Wanda-Gayle’s little heart was struck robbing her more of her self-worth, and I cry as I now think of it. I cry as a daddy for her dad, for her as a father if she were my child, because I have children and grandchildren, because God has now caused me to see people as He does. I know when I was growing up my family and I were only a few paychecks removed from being in the same condition Wanda-Gayle was in.
Their poverty and need were not because they deserved it, nor was the family security I had because I deserved it. All I know is that I have a sacred responsibility because God has given me the life I’ve had, to give back to others who are in need. I need to show His love and lift up the Wanda-Gayles that come into my life and be a helping hand instead of critical and judgmental of them.
I don’t know what happened to Wanda-Gayle. I saw her maybe once or twice after those years. I was friendly to her for God had already been speaking to me about her. My parents also helped me see it. I now say a prayer for her every now and then. She may be dead, but she may have family? Her life may have never gotten any better for her? But I pray that God has been or will be merciful to this unknown and unseen person who crossed my life path. God brings her up for a reason, and I think it is because she represents many more people like her around me.
You may be asking, as I do the Lord most often when He lays such heavy thoughts on me, why do I bring this up? Why bring up such a sad story? How does that fit now, in this society, in this day and time, in my life at present? I think it is because God wants me to speak His heart on this subject. There are a lot more “Wanda-Gayles” in this world, and they are all around us if we will look at them. I am so tired of the angry, political rhetoric that is influencing us today. Violence, hatred, persecution and exclusion is bombarding us constantly, and we are losing our heart as a nation. I’m not political and I will give none of my influence to become political. I vote and I allow God to direct me. But I will not direct you. However, I will speak to you as my brothers and sisters in Christ and remind you of who we are. I will seek to restore our identity and our practice of showing this angry culture we live in what Jesus looks like by the way we love the “Wanda-Gayles” of this world and each other. That will be my mission this week.
Will you join me with a short series the next few days to seek and ask God His perspective with how we represent Him in this world we live in? Tune in later for some more thoughts He gives me. Be blessed and be a blessing.