of our dirt
by Terry L. Craig
© 2013, 2019
When I was only twenty, I lived on an island in the Caribbean and I had a ceramic store. Even though the island was technically part of the US, the building where my store was located was owned by Denmark and I had to rent the space from the Royal Danish Consulate. At the time, I didn’t know much about Denmark really—except that it was in Europe and probably got very cold in the winter.
So one slow day, I’m in the back of my store, happily mixing a big tub of slip (liquid clay). I’m using a hand-held drill with a very long mixing bit to swirl the slip around in the tub . . . and at times it’s flipping brown slip all over the place. Occasionally, I stop, reach in, and moosh the clay on the bottom of the tub with my hands to make sure it all dissolves. It’s really messy, but I love clay, so that’s okay.
Anyway, I’m happily making slip when I look up . . . and there is the Danish Consul standing in the store with a man, a woman, and some kids. Sven, the Consul, is wearing a necktie. In the islands, only tourists and Maître D’s wear ties. (Formal dining for most of us meant wearing clean jeans and shoes.) The tie is so snug that Sven’s pearly white face is as red as a boiled ham. I’m thinkin’, Wow. That tie is really tight. These must be important people.
I stand up straight. Sven clears his throat. “Mrs. Craig, I would like you to meet the Danish royal family. . .”
Oh noooooooo! Suddenly, I realize I am covered with mud. It’s on my clothes, my shoes, maybe in my hair. Golly, it’s probably even on my face! And my arms are up past the elbows in slippery clay! My happy slip-slopping moment is suddenly an I-wanna-drop-into-a-hole-and-hide moment. I put my arms behind my back.
Sven starts the intros: “ . . . Her Royal Highness . . .”
My mind is whirling. Whatever is one supposed to DO in the presence of royalty? Curtsey? Bow? Well, no. I’m American, they aren’t MY royal family . . . but I’m sure there are rules . . !
I do this sort of respectful slow and low head nod.
They are all smiling. I’m trying to NOT look like someone who just stuck a nail in an electrical outlet and held onto it. The man steps forward and offers to shake my hand . . . forcing me to reveal the reason why this would be a bad idea. I move my arms into sight and shrug before saying, “I’m so sorry. My hands, as you can see . . . are covered with clay.”
He quickly steps forward, grasps my hand and shakes it as he says, “That’s okay. It will wash off.”
The family spent a number of minutes in my store asking questions and looking at the things I made. If they hadn’t been introduced, I would have had no idea they were “royals.” They were just nice people.
That was a long time ago, but to this day whenever I hear the word Denmark, I smile. Why? Because people I met from there (even the royal family) represented their country well. I am left with the permanent impression that Denmark must be a good place. I’d even like to go there some day.
In light of that, did you ever really consider that Christians (whether we are writers, waiters, shoe makers, or ship captains) are ambassadors for Christ? We are. What is an ambassador anyway? He/she is an authorized representative or messenger, sent by his/her King to another country. An ambassador is the eyes, ears, hands, and voice of the King. As God’s ambassadors, we are to represent Jesus, our King, who gladly walked this earth and fearlessly touched even those who were considered untouchable.
Do we represent Him well?
If we faithfully represented Life and Light, people around us could often recognize their own true state (perhaps the mud caked all over their hands?)—without some condemning dissertation from us. Will we reach out to grasp their hands? Would someone who has encountered us give thought to our Kingdom and want to be part of it?
“Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own.
“Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.” 2 Corinthians 5:14-20, The Message
Adapted from the blog post Touchable Royalty, Terry L. Craig © 2013