This might be the first of many installments to come. Who knows? It's just that things are different in my heart and I don't even know the half of it yet. To try to put all this into words is nearly impossible for me right now (and that's saying a LOT for a chick who rarely finds herself speechless).
To be completely honest recovering from jet lag and finding my balance with a baby in the house hasn't been conducive to my hasty processing of our experiences in Addis Ababa. Tonight I experienced a moment of clarity via an unexpected burden.
Since we've been home our "family" at Palm Valley Church have been AMAZINGLY supportive of us. They have loved on us SO MUCH in a variety of ways but one outward expression has been the delivery of dinners for our family. Night after night we've been the happy recipients of delicious fare delivered to us by loving friends we thank God for. It's been such a HUGE gift to us.
***So, here comes my disclaimer for this post: If you are one of those loving and special friends who've brought us food please understand that this has NOTHING to do with you. This has to do with work that the Lord is doing in my heart and the heart of my husband and it just happens that the food you gave us is the tool He's used to prick our hearts. Please read the following in that light. And, know that we LOVE you and appreciate you SO MUCH!***
On to the gist of this post. I must begin with a story. One of the snap shots from our trip lodged forever in my memory. An infant. The sex of whom was unknown to me. Of the sort I'd only ever seen in magazines depicting famine. The kind I've cried over many times, only this time this particular child was real life to me. Before my very eyes, in a crib in room number 5 of the intake orphanage which was our son's first stop on the way home to us.
Room number 5, as far as I can tell, is for the healthier infants of the orphanage. This tells me that I must have met this child in an improved state which, to me, is unbelievable. This baby was SO THIN, literally flesh stretched over bone. The jawline nearly brought me to tears. And, I would have sat right down and cried myself a river but for the pride I had in the faithful women who serve the children day in and day out. It was their hard work keeping this baby alive. Cry babies need not apply for that job and they sure didn't need to deal with Jen being hysterical. Instead I just laid hands of that beloved child and prayed. Maybe for the first time I truly understood what Paul meant when he wrote about the Holy Spirit interceding when we cannot verbalize our prayers.
Then, there are the kids at Hope for the Hopeless. 2 meals a day. No meat. And we bring suckers. What!? That's a bandaid on severe laceration. Don't get me wrong. The kids loved the suckers. I've got nothing against suckers but I'm not kidding myself. I can't pat myself on the back for sending a bag of suckers to the needy kids in Africa and call it a day. As if that will satisfy God's desire for justice and equality.
Malnutrition. Starvation. I don't exactly know what to do with these things. How can I cope? All of a sudden I have this urge to preach to the world. (As if they need to hear me talk!? HA!) But, I do wish everyone could go to Africa and see what I saw. If only to help them understand me at this point. I know, It's my race to run, and they've got their own. I can't make their race be about mine. I can't force my burdens upon them. But I want them to know too.
So here I am. As the knocks on the door bring with them pounds of food my heart grows heavier. I am now freezing the leftovers because I DARE NOT LET A MORSEL GO TO WASTE.
I cannot help but feel like sometimes I've gotten things so wrong. It's tempting to think that because my stomach is full and I have abundance, that I am one of the blessed ones. I am growing fearful though. Abundance is truly a burden. A fact I've come to KNOW. We aren't intended to have more than our needs require. While we were in Addis Mark directed our attention to 2 Cor 8: 13-15
13Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed,I'll have more to write on this subject later but equality was a word that kept popping up for the four of us often during out trip. The lack of equality was astounding. So stark a contrast and frankly embarrassing for us as wealthy members of the church universal. Where's the equality?
but that there might be equality. 14At the present time your plenty will supply
what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then
there will be equality, 15as it is written: "He who gathered much did not have
too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little."
I've made it nearly 30 years without ever really seeing starvation face to face. That makes me a rarity on this planet. I saw starving people because I made choices to put myself in that position after following the Lord's lead but I could have EASILY chosen ignorance. Ignorance is a luxury (if you want to call it that) that the vast majority of the earth cannot afford. That's makes me royalty, really. I belong to the class of the elite privileged of our generation. I might as well wear a tiara and a sash. Scratch that. You know those few extra pounds around my belt line? Those are the jewels in my crown of abundance. A crown that is cockeyed and tarnished when I look closely.
Oh God, do not let me be one who just sheds a few tears and then goes on her way. The same as ever before.
1Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His
disciples came to him, 2and he began to teach them saying: 3"Blessed are
the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4Blessed are
those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5Blessed are the
meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6Blessed are those who hunger
and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7Blessed are
the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 8Blessed are the pure in
heart, for they will see God. 9Blessed are the peacemakers, for
they will be called sons of God. 10Blessed are those who are persecuted because
of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11"Blessed are you
when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against
you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in
heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before