“Jessica…Jessica … oh yes, here you are,” declared the woman on the other side of the clipboard. “You’ll be counselor for the five and six year olds.” She dug around in a box for a moment, handing Jessica a neon pink T-shirt with the words Happyland Family Camp, 1984 scribbled in glowing green across the front. “Here you go.”
Jessica stared at the shirt for a moment. “1984?” Maybe it was just a joke.
The woman didn’t laugh. “It’s from a previous year. We didn’t order enough of this year’s shirts.”
Jessica willed her cheeks into a polite smile and stepped aside. She held the shirt up. It could have doubled as a sail. She lowered it a moment to see the other counselors lining up at the auditorium's double doors. From inside she heard the announcer’s voice blaring, and the kids cheering in reply. She pulled the shirt on over her tank top and tried to tuck it in, but there was too much fabric to stuff into her jeans. She gave up and left it hanging out. As the shirt flapped gently in the breeze, the smell of dusty attic drifted up to her nostrils. The other counselors all looked so cool standing there. What little kid would like a stinky counselor in an ugly shirt?
Suddenly the doors swung open. “And now, give it up for Counselor Jessica!” The other counselors parted and looked back at her expectantly. Startled, she charged down the aisle, smiling and waving in every direction. Where was she supposed to go? She began to panic. It’s OK, Jess, stay cool. Something will happen. She turned her gaze ahead just in time to see a giant amplifier stand in her path. There was no time to react. She smashed into it head-on, taking a pile of sound equipment down with her. The kids erupted in laughter.
Counselors ran to her from several directions. She touched her lip and felt the sticky warmth of blood smearing her skin. Someone helped her up and led her backstage to the bathrooms, pressing a cloth to her throbbing nose. Someone else came a minute later with a bag of ice. She wanted to shrink to the size of a pea and disappear. When they finally left, she walked to the mirror and pulled the cloth away. Her face was almost as red as the blood pouring out of it.
This was the worst day ever.
She sank down on the couch in the corner, her brows crinkled in frustration. Is this why You called me here, Lord? I think I’d rather have stayed home all summer.
Jessica kept to herself for the rest of the afternoon. She watched her team and cheered them on at games, but all she could think about was leaving.
At three o’clock, parents arrived to take their children. Jessica walked to the lake alone and plopped at the water’s edge, pulling off her camp shirt and wadding it in her lap. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be, God. Why am I even here? On a strange impulse, she looked down at the shirt in her lap. She hadn’t noticed the writing on the back before. Spreading the shirt out on the sand, the words seemed to leap off at her. Whoever receives this child in My name receives Me…
It was the verse God had used to call her to camp in the first place. Conviction gripped her throat. She had barely paid attention to those kids. She didn’t even know their names. How could she have been so selfish? Glancing down again, she read the rest of the words …for the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great. Luke 9:48
Was she the “least”? What did that mean? The answer came like a flash. Humble people don’t care about their image.
She hadn’t been the “least” at all.
For a moment, she forgot herself. She thought of the kids in her team, and suddenly God’s love for them came pouring out of her. It was so clear. As long as she cared about herself, God’s love couldn’t flow. But when she let go…
She could feel her face glowing. Father, love them through me, whatever it takes. The neon shirt glowed back at her, and she laughed. Yeah, even if it takes wearing a really ugly shirt.
Scripture taken from the NASB
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