I met Eula at an airport. She was a gate agent whose expression signaled she knew me though we had never met. It turned out she attended the congregation I pastored. As I continued down the jet way, she chased after me shoving 1st Class boarding passes into my hands. She had quickly upgraded my traveling companion and me. Over the next 2 decades it would be the least kind thing I saw her do.
I met Eula just after I began traveling across the US and internationally as a conference speaker. I was at the airport – a lot. Before long I discovered nearly everyone who worked at the airline knew Eula or had a story about her. She’d prayed or counseled with many of them, or someone they knew, and they loved her for it. I soon realized that these were the least kind things she did.
Apparently, there weren’t enough people at the airport for Eula to love and minister to. So she became a foster mom to 24 girls over the next 16 years. I had a front row seat to the action, as Eula and her 2 to 3 girls (at a time), attended our congregation. She poured individual attention on them, fiercely loving these girls. It was that ‘hands on’ kind of love that biological kids hate but which adopted or foster kids celebrate – because they’ve lived without it.
I soon realized that Eula was like a spiritual ninja, breaking generational curses by ‘loving the hell’ out of kids whose parents were AWOL. Though tempted with bitterness towards their families, Eula’s love washed these girls clean, aiming them for a better future. They bought into Jesus because Eula bought into them and brought them in. The power of her love, or God’s – it was hard to separate the two – was almost irresistible.
If loving people was work for Eula, I never saw it. She was most alive when giving to others. Eula did not love quietly, she was animated, boisterous, and in my vernacular, out of control – in a good way. If anyone else had acted like her, it would have appeared odd. When Eula did it, it was natural and compelling. Her fostering days are over, but Eula’s still going strong.
She has no boundaries when it comes to loving people. She will say and do things that no one else can get away with. She wasted no years suppressing her idiosyncrasies. She thinks Jesus loves her just like she is, so she does too. With no religion at her core, none ever comes out, only love.
It is Christ in her, not Christ instead of her that makes Eula powerful. She is fun and disarming because her faith is in God, not her religious compliance. Those who prefer religion for controlling their own (and others) behavior might not care for Eula’s expression of faith. Those who enjoy
Eula never embraced the scripture about having a ‘meek and quiet spirit.’ She grabbed the ones about God’s overwhelming love for her and others. As a result, she became a powerhouse of God’s love towards others. Embracing and trying to wedge herself into the other one, would have ruined who God created her to be. That is what religion does.
Adding not subtracting
Religion makes people less – it devours them. God makes people more – He empowers them. While many people use religion to work on themselves to become less – less loud, less aggressive, or less expressive, Eula never did. She’s loud about God’s goodness, aggressive in showing His kindness and expressive in showering love on others. She.is.fully.alive.
The freedom to be as God created us; and the power to be even more is the essence of Christianity. That is God’s plan. I have seen the intricacies of professional religion and it is bad. The system is more than a counterfeit of; it is an impediment to, Christ in us.
I am not referring to ‘the church system’; but the system of human control instead of God’s power. Systems that try to control human behavior rather than empowering new behavior are simply antiChrist. The mystery hidden from the ages, but now revealed is Christ in us – the expectation of God’s goodness and nature coming through us – into the world.
Eula’s example is clear because love is her gift. However, the banker who serves others passionately with their gifts is also doing God’s will. The teacher who imparts a love of subject matter, inspiring others serves God also. The salesperson whose speech captivates
A new world
The new world coming is not populated with those have diminished their personalities. It is comprised of those who have become greater by Christ inside them. God does not eradication our wrong; He makes up our lack by putting His Son (His Spirit) into us and us into the world.
Today may you find Him within and celebrate every good gift and ability He has put in you. May you live in the amazing mystery and reality of Christ in you – the expectation of God’s goodness coming through you into the world.