Only Human

Scripture: Psalm 8: 3- 5, 9
Jill A. Kirchner-Rose, MDIV, DMIN
June 26, 2016

There once was a dad who had a three year old son named Brandon.  One day, Brandon sees his dad eating chocolate chip cookies in the living room and says to himself, “Daddy loves chocolate chip cookies with milk.  So I am going to give Daddy a glass of milk.”  With that thought Brandon goes into the living room and drags a chair from the dining room into the kitchen, leaving a trail of scratch marks on the floor.

Brandon climbs up on the chair and pulls at the cabinet door.  Wham!  It smashes against the adjacent cabinet door, leaving a gash where the handle hit it.  Brandon reaches for a glass, accidentally knocking two others off the shelf.  Crash!  But Brandon doesn’t care.  He’s thinking, “I’m going to get Daddy some milk!”

Meanwhile, Brandon’s dad is watching all this, wondering if he should step in and save the rest of his kitchen.  He decides, for the moment, to watch a little more as Brandon scrambles off the chair and heads for the refrigerator.  Pulling violently on the refrigerator door, Brandon flings it wide open – and it stays open, of course.  Brandon puts the glass on the floor – out of harm’s way, supposedly and grabs, not the little half gallon of milk, but the big gallon container that is full of milk.  He rips open the top, pours it in the vicinity of the glass, and even manages to get some milk in the glass.  The rest goes all over the floor.

Finally done, Brandon puts the milk carton on the floor and picks up the glass yelling, “Daddy, I got something for you!”  He runs into the living room, trips and spills milk all over the place – the floor, the couch, his dad.  Brandon stands up and looks around.  He sees broken glass, milk everywhere, cabinets open, his dad wearing milk from his eyebrows to his toes, and Brandon starts to cry.  Through his tears, he looks up at his dad with that pained expression that says, “What are you going to do to me?”

Do you know what his father does?  He smiles.  He doesn’t see a kid that just destroyed his house.  Instead he sees a beautiful little boy whom he loves very much.  It doesn’t matter what he’s done.  Brandon’s dad stretches his arms out to hold his little boy tight and says, “This is my son!”  (Wayne Rice, Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks, pg 58).

Like Brandon, there are times when we look around at our world and it feels like a real mess!  And like Brandon, we may even want to shed some tears.  It is not just “spilled milk” that we are crying over, it is something much more serious:  mass shootings, terrorist attacks, oil spills, presidential candidates, climate change, warfare, hunger, homelessness, and the list goes on and on.  In exasperation, we look around and ask, “What’s right with this world?”  God confidently answers, “You are!  You are what is right with this world!”

The Psalmist makes a bold statement as he writes, “You, O God, have made human beings a little lower than Yourself.” Yes, I know that human beings can be messy.  We can even commit heinous crimes as evidenced by the Orlando shootings.  We can be hurtful and selfish.  But at the core of our being is divinity.  We are also capable of immense goodness, profound beauty, divine healing and infinite love.  We have the fingerprints of God all over us. According to the Psalmist humans have been created a little lower than God.  The author of Genesis says that we were created in God’s image and that we have the very breath of God within us.  Jesus says that we are the light of the world!

I couldn’t agree more!  When I hear the prayers that you have prayed for Orlando, when I hear of 200 Muslims gathering to pray for the victims, when I hear of people who heroically risked their own lives at Pulse Nightclub for others, when I hear of police officers who practically stood toe-to-toe with a shooter.  There is divinity within humanity.

We have a saying in our society.  When we make a mistake, we say, “I am only human.” A shortstop catches the ball 200 times and he finally drops it and somebody says, “Well, he’s only human.”  A woman sings a beautiful song – she hits every note perfectly, but one time her voice cracks and we say, “Well, she’s only human.”  When people realize they’ve made a mistake, they say, “I’m only human”.  When people feel like they can’t achieve any more, they say, “I’m only human”.  When people feel like they have made a real mess of their lives, they say, “I’m only human.”  Why, why do we say we’re only human in speaking of weakness?  Why not claim our humanity as our strength?  I want to encourage you that the next time you witness love, generosity, forgiveness, reconciliation, courage to declare, “She is a human being, after all.”  The next time you witness compassion, gentleness and strength, say to yourself, “He is a human being, after all.”  The next time the Spirit of God pours forth from you in word or deed, nod your head and say, “Yes, I have the breath of God within me.  I am a human being, after all.”

Jesus says, “You are the light of the world!”  Marianne Williamson echoing Jesus’ words says this:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

What is right with this world?  You are, you are, you are, you are!  I know that life can feel like a real mess sometimes.  It may even bring us to tears.  We may be tempted to hang our head in defeat at times – but remember you have within you, the Spirit of the Living God.  You are a human being, after all!  The apostle Paul puts it this way, “We are perplexed, but not in despair.  We are afflicted, but not crushed. We are persecuted, but not forsaken.  We are struck down, but not destroyed.”

There is a video that I would like to share with you, that speaks of the pervasive beauty, strength and power of the human spirit.  It is called “Overcomer” by Mandisa.  I first saw this video at the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast in May.  The mayor of Redlands played this song over and over and over again after his son died.  There were times when he did not know whether he could get through the death of his son and so he played this song at the office, in the car, at home – every chance he got to remind himself that he is an “Overcomer”.

This inspirational video features three persons in the public eye.  The first person is Good Morning America host, Robin Roberts, who had a bone marrow transplant and as a result of Robin’s battle, there was an 18,000% rise in people who signed the donor registry.  The second person is Gold Medal Winner figure skater Scott Hamilton who faced a brain tumor.  And the third person featured in this video is U.S. Congresswoman, Gabby Giffords, who suffered a gunshot wound to the head.   As a result of Giffords’ gunshot wound, she and her husband, retired astronaut and Navy Captain Mark Kelly, founded the gun violence prevention organization, Americans for Responsible Solutions.  ARS is an organization looking for sensible ways to reduce gun violence and to enact responsible firearm policies. All three persons turned their tragedies into triumphs.

Whether you are facing your own personal challenges or simply feeling discouraged by a world that appears to be in a real mess, may this song speak to you.   

You, too, are an “Overcomer”.  You are created in God’s image.  You are the light of the world! You are a human being, after all!

(Play video.)