A dead dog like me

It is in those times when I read the Bible as a story that I find the most surprises. Reading in 2 Samuel recently, I came across the story of Mephibosheth. The story wasn’t new to me. I had heard at least one sermon about this boy, and he was mentioned in books I had read. It was the words he said that struck me as new on this day.

A summary of the story leading up to these words goes something like this: Saul, Israel’s first king, was extremely jealous of David, the king-to-be. David’s best friend was Saul’s son Jonathan. Saul and all his sons, Jonathan included, died in battle.

A few pages later, King David asks if Saul has any living relatives so that he can “show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake” (9:1).

David is told that Saul does indeed have one living relative, a grandson. As it turns out, this grandson, Mephibosheth, is Jonathan’s son. We are told where he has been living since his father and grandfather died, and that he is “crippled in both feet” (9:3)

The king calls for the boy, and he comes. David reassures him that he means him no harm. In fact, he plans to restore to him all the land that was Saul’s, and he says that from now on he will eat regularly at the king’s table. Mephibosheth’s response is unexpected. He prostrates himself and asks, “What is your servant, that you should regard a dead dog like me?” (9:8).

When Mephibosheth entered that room, everyone could see his physical brokenness. However, it is his words that reveal his spiritual and emotional brokenness. We are left to assume that this image of himself has been formed by those around him. He is without value, without dignity. A dead dog is much worse than worthless. It is putrid. It is disgusting. It needs to be gotten rid of.

Recently I heard the story of a youth who comes to the day center here in Galati. He said that several years ago, while his father still had a job at the factory, he wasn’t allowed to sit at the table with the rest of his family. He had to sit alone, apart from the others until they had finished. Then he would be fed from what food remained.

If you come to Galati and meet this young man, his mental brokenness will become evident to you. His mind doesn’t work quite as quickly as most others’. He thinks a little slower, and it’s more difficult for him to learn. That was why he was marginalized by his father, treated literally like the family dog.

However, you will also recognize what an amazing heart this young man has. He is sensitive, caring and loving. If you stay long enough, you may see something even more amazing. Though the other children at the center can be mean-spirited and say all kinds of cruel things to each other, I have never witnessed them being cruel to this young man. Instead, they all love him. It is as if they sense the presence of this angel among us.

This young man — along with you and I — is learning what it means to be loved by God. He is learning that the King intends to restore to him what was lost. He is finding out that from now on he is invited to eat at the King’s table. And, like you and I, he is slowly discovering that his brokenness does not need to be hidden. It is by revealing our brokenness that God is glorified. He is shown to be our perfect King, who accepts us and loves us as we are.

rom-paul-img_1146Paul recently organized a photography club with some of the children at Casa “la Vale.” He encouraged them to get pictures of people who were not posing. Paul admits that it wasn’t really necessary to disturb the other clubs happening at the time, but it was the easiest way for the children to check surprised/angry people off their lists. 

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