And it's about time i found Jesus, since today is our last day in the pleasant little town of Shumen. There is a monument here that was built to commemorate this city's 1300th anniversary. (that's not a typo - 1300 years! and that was a few years back, mind you) There are 1300 stairs leading up to this monument, and once you get up there, you feel a bit like Indiana Jones stumbling upon some ancient ruins, as if some ghost of a knight is going to pop out and tell you that you've chosen wisely.
This monument is one of my favorite places in all of Shumen, and today i made my last sweaty run up the steps (with my pal Amy Joy) to enjoy the large sculptures and mosaics one last time. But today i saw something i hadn't noticed before, and i hate myself for not having a camera with me. There is, in between some mosaics walls that are about 6 stories tall, a narrow corridor (Matthew 7:13-14) that goes back a ways (still very Dr. Jones-ish) and at the end of it - past some stairs and some dirt - is a small mosaic of Jesus. It's just his chest and his face and it's only about waist high, but it took my breath away when i stumbled upon it today. To think He was just hiding back there, all alone, sitting in the dirt ... waiting for me to find Him. And isn't this our Jesus, too? He is always there, but don't we have to seek him to really find Him? (jeremiah 29:13) He is longing to make us clean, but isn't he in the filthier places, getting his hands dirty with the sinful people of this world and ushering them into his kingdom? He looked so peaceful, sitting there waiting for me, and it brought the same feeling over me.
But I find something different in our American churches. Mine is so polished, so clean, so full of pretty people. Everyone is doing "good" and we are all looking fine in our sunday best. I see something different in the Bulgarian church we have visited here. People often don't match, they often don't smell freshly showered, and they sometimes sing off key. There's this one lady who wears an Adidas wristband every time she's there - whether she's in jeans or dresses - and i never figured out why. But they come to God so humbly broken, so aware of their need for him, and so full of praise. I don't even have to speak their language to see this. I like how Jon Foreman says he is part of "the church of dropouts, the losers, the sinners, and the fools." Isn't this us? When did we think we had to look so good and hide so well? (i type as i point one finger back at myself)
So, here's to hoping that i can walk a narrow path to sit in the dirt with Jesus more, getting my hands filthy with the reality of broken humanity. Thanks for the good times, Shumen. I will miss you.