Monday, November 17, 2008
collecting shells or souls? BON VOYAGE
The first time we went to Haiti back in 2005, I didn’t know if we would EVER recover from all the things God revealed to us during that trip. Our comfortable life was turned upside down by everything we saw and experienced there. Thankfully, we never did “get over” it… God changed our entire life goals from that point on. After we saw what we saw with our own eyes, we were morally obligated to change and “recovery” was not an option. Princess Diana had it right when she said: “You can’t comfort the afflicted without afflicting the comfortable.” God changed our comfortable life forever during first precious those days we spent in Haiti. We realized that proof of our love for Christ was not best reflected in merely going to church, singing praise songs, going to bible study and prayer meetings, or teaching a Sunday school class (although those things are important), but in genuinely loving and serving the sick, the poor, the weak, and the marginalized. I used to be able to ignore those statistics of extreme poverty but once the numbers have faces and stories associated with them… it haunts you. You begin to value what God values, to love those in this world we have been conditioned to ignore, and to see with His eyes.
Jake teases me with the truth that our “retirement” plan has drastically changed since that week… no more traveling in a RV to visit the grandkids… no, we will probably spend our golden years surrounded by Haitian orphans and singing hymns with the accordion playing in the background. John Piper is also to blame for ruining my retirement… In his book “Don’t waste your life”, he tells these stories….
“Three weeks ago we got word at our church that Ruby Eliason and Laura Edwards had both been killed in Cameroon. Ruby was over 80. Single all her life, she poured it out for one great thing: To make Jesus Christ known among the unreached, the poor, and the sick. Laura was a widow, a medical doctor, pushing 80 years old, and serving at Ruby’s side in Cameroon. The brakes failed, the car went over the cliff, and they were both killed instantly. And I asked my people: was that a tragedy? Two lives, driven by one great vision, spent in unheralded service to the perishing poor for the glory of Jesus Christ—two decades after almost all their American counterparts have retired to throw their lives away on trifles in Florida or New Mexico. No. That is not a tragedy. That is a glory.”
“I tell you what a tragedy is. I’ll read to you from Reader’s Digest (Feb. 2000, p. 98) what a tragedy is: “Bob and Penny… took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30 foot trawler, play softball and collect shells.” The American Dream: come to the end of your life - your one and only life - and let the last great work before you give an account to your Creator, be “I collected shells. See my shells.” THAT is a tragedy. And people today are spending billions of dollars to persuade you to embrace that tragic dream. And I plead with you: don’t buy it.”
If I have a choice between the two stories above, I choose the first scenario. I want to go out like that... unashamedly loving people and eternally changing God’s kingdom rather than living a comfortable life for my own kingdom. When I stand before I want to hear Him say “well done!” and if all I have to offer is a handful of collected sea shells, I may “get in” but what a waste?! I want to spend my life gathering souls not shells!
But lately I have heard a familiar friend named “fear” whisper doubts and suddenly I find myself wanting to revert back to the wimp I used to be. But God is an amazing mathematician…. There are 365 promises in Scripture that begin with the words “FEAR NOT”!!! Umm coincidence? I don’t think so! One for every day of year that I feel tempted to stay in my comfortable SAFE SHELL of a life. God has showed me over and over again that the safest place in the world is the center of His perfect will for me! And because the risen Lord lives inside of me, He goes with (and usually before me) wherever I go. When I enter a scary and dark place, I bring the light of the world with me. I bring the God of the universe! In and of my little wimpy self, I do not have much to offer. My piece of the puzzle for changing the world is very small but put together with all of the pieces of the body and God will change this world one person at a time. God has entrusted one piece of the puzzle to me, and all he asks is that I am faithful to work on that one part.
We leave for Haiti in less than a week. Jake and I have been as excited as kids on Christmas Eve the last few days. Watching God’s faithfulness unfold before your eyes is exciting stuff!!! He has done more than we could have imagined or hoped for already and we haven’t even left yet! One of the hymns we learned in Creole on our first trip talked about going on a journey home one day and the words “Bon Voyage” were repeated over and over. Please keep us in your prayers the next few weeks and BON VOYAGE!!!
PS~ I need to really need to be focused in prayer and my facebook fetish is one my biggest distractions… so I will not be getting back for a while until we get back December 1st Happy thanksgiving!!!