Several years ago, I arrived at a small village in Ecuador, visiting for about a week. By the end of the week, I had a chance to stop by the local school and meet a few of the teachers. I asked a few of them if the school was looking for English help, as I was thinking of returning at some point to Ecuador for a longer term, maybe a year. They told me to hold on a minute, and they would get the principal.
A few minutes later a woman came in and we had a short discussion (as my Spanish was at the Boston Latin Spanish 4 level from 20 years earlier), and she left me the email address for the school. I never sent an email because I ended up going to a different location for my year-long stay.
When I came back over a year later, the teachers invited me in and I happened to have some English support to offer, as well as some support for their Christmas celebration. The kids and teachers loved it, and I got meet all the kids and get to know the teachers. Now, it wasn’t really according to the rules from headquarters of the school system, but the principal opened wide the door for me anyway, and gave me a lot of leeway. That gave me the opportunity to form a bond with the community that continues to this day, and a very important part of what I have felt to be a part of my mission. I really needed her to open the door.
Fast forward to a month or so ago. I got a note from her on Facebook. She wanted to talk.
She said she thought her marriage was over.
When we connected over internet video, she had to hide in a closet to have privacy so that her family couldn’t hear her. All I could see through the camera was the vague feature of a face, barely moving in the darkness. The conversation began, and after some tears, by the end of the time – I don’t know how – but I could actually see her face. The darkness was still there.
But now there was a smile.
I thought afterwards to myself, Wow, five years ago, when things were going great for her, no one had any idea that she would need my help in her darkest hour. I was the one who really needed the favor. But she opened the door for me then. And now God was giving her the reward.
No matter how comfortable you are right now, you are going to reach a point of rock bottom in your life. When you reach the end of your life, you are going to be alone, you are going to become poor, you are going to become a homeless immigrant. It is going to be just you alone in the darkness, with your whole world at an end, looking for a way out. Death is not pretty, it is not comfortable. And it is against the law to enter heaven. Whether or not the doors of heaven are opened with a smiling, friendly face and new way to go, will have nothing to do with whether you followed laws and rules in life. It will depend on only one thing: whether or not you opened the doors for people who really needed it from you.
Jesus comes and knocks at the door of our lives in a mysterious way, at mysterious times. You will recognize him as the one looking for some mercy in our hearts. If we open the door, regardless of the laws, then there will be a day when He will forget about the law and open the doors for us.
We will emerge out of the darkness of death, with a big smile on our faces.
And we’ll have our reward.
“Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for .. I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” (Mt 25:34-35)