Monday, May 21, 2012

In A Moment

My husband, Ben has a beautiful way with words.  He's shared on my blog before about Tariku's adoptionour experience in Uganda and the poverty of our hearts.  Because of his line of work with orphans, he gets to travel quite a bit (insert fits of jealousy here). He just got back from his first trip to Haiti last week and it wrecked him.  He's seen a lot of poverty in a lot of different parts of the world, but there was something about Haiti.  He wrote the following thoughts while sitting at the airport on his way back and I thought they were too beautiful and powerful to keep to myself, so enjoy...

In a moment

Brilliant sparkling landscape.
Bare feet skitter with ticking sounds of life.

Fragrant scene breathed as a tiny hand extends to you.
But it is not as it seems.

Sparkling, yes, with the debris of a disposable existence.
Shattered bottles reflecting shattered dreams.
The bare feet of poverty covered in the mire, sore and bleeding;
Bloodied and infected with the disease of disparity and our ignorance.
Pungent rotting odor assaulting the senses like time-released death.
The decomposing detritus of stolen joy.
The hand trembles with fear and doubt.
"Am I as disposable as this garbage that feeds me?"
Can the child filled with waste believe that they are not the thing that they consume?

The hand finally reaches me as my eyes drift up the arm to the tattered shirt with peeling logo; the exposed shoulder from a shirt intended for a much larger child as it hangs to one side on her; the neck creased with lines that indicate the filth and sweat of someone working in the dirt. 
The chin that has quivered so many times with no one to comfort her, but the face is a paradox. Scars from hurts that will never be explained, creased brow betraying the gift of confusion that injustice gladly gives to so many. 

But the mouth, and the eyes... Oh the eyes! Incomprehensible.
Turned up corners in a mischievous smile, and the eyes, how they dance with delight.

It is now my brow that shows confusion.
Now I see it.  That second of  clarity; that moment so brief that in years to come I will question if it even happened.
I saw it all transformed. It is with her eyes that place is now seen.
The ground still sparkles but it now has a yellow hue that can only be precious metal.
The feet, no longer bleeding are clean and festooned with sandals and are no longer still.
Dancing.  Joyful dancing that starts in your belly, spreads to your head and feet resulting in broad full smiles and bouncing, turning and skipping.
The smell;  newness of life that makes you want to swaddle and draw her to your arms.
And the river strewn with garbage waste and stench, is the clean river of life.  The tree on the bank bearing fruit in its time with healing in its leaves.

And I know that it is only you, Jesus.  You are the one that turns the tears of the orphan into dancing.  You are the one that uses the lowly to shame the wise.  You that gives joy in impossible situations.  It is you that makes a way.

And it is gone. Back to difficulty. Back to filth and hardship. As we lock eyes, that crooked smile communicates the whole of existence.  Her eyes alight with You and it was not this place, but my very being that has been transformed.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Half-Truths, Empty Lives

The enemy of true life has a way of tricking us into hinging our existence on half-truths - ideas that seem noble, but in the end rob us of the fullness that we were created to live within.

It's a humbling thing to realize the half-truths that pervade our lives. Scratch that.  It's downright annoying.  The recent months have been full of God revealing the half-truths that I've allowed to creep into my thinking and thus, my way of life.  Half-truths are almost more dangerous than outright lies, because often lies are easily spotted and we can do away with them, but not so with half-truths.  They fly under the radar unnoticed because they have the appearance of truth.  They have the scent of being right but contain the power to hold us back from all that we were made for. 

I've grown up in the "Church", where unfortunately, half-truths have been held up as whole truth and shouted aloud with good intentions.  And I've bought them.  Hook, line and sinker.  We must learn to finish the sentence.  And not just with our mouths, but to believe it with all we are. 

I am a wretch...and God has made me royalty as His daughter by His grace. 

I'll never be rid of my sin and the mess I've made...and God is making something beautiful out of my brokenness because He wastes nothing.

I am weak...and all throughout history, it has been the weak ones that God has used. 

I shouldn't do anything until I'm sure it's God's will...and when I walk out of a surrendered heart to Him, I can be assured that my will and His will are one in the same.

I have nothing to offer...and as His own, I have an open invitation to reach out and find everything I need in Him. 

What stands between you and your destiny?  False ideas about ourselves and lies we have believed can block us from experiencing what we have been called to walk in - FULLNESS.

It's time for us to see the half-truths for what they are and step into who we've been created to be, because you and I, friends, are made for so much more.

Someone once said that many of us are starving while sitting at a table laden with food.  And I think I have been starving myself somehow.  Perhaps because I feel I'm not worthy of such a meal.  Perhaps because sometimes I can't see the food on the table.  But there's a voice that beckons me to open my eyes and come and eat... that it's more than okay for me to reach out and take what is rightfully mine as a child of God.  It's been God's plan all along - to give us access to a life and a feast that is beyond what we can imagine.  The key word there is GIVE.  God GIVES us everything we need to lead a life that is full and purposeful.  We can't do a single thing to earn it.  We can spend our whole lives striving for it and never find it.  It's pure gift.  

And this has exposed something critical for me.  I can run around like crazy, striving and "doing" things for God, but all along, God is just saying "Come. Eat. You have all you need right here with Me."  God doesn't need me or anything I do for Him.  He simply doesn't.  But what He wants is my heart.  As I turn my affections from the striving and doing and just simply look at Him, I suddenly see that there's this spread that He's prepared for me just waiting to be eaten. While we eat food because we enjoy it, we mostly eat it to sustain us.  It's taken into our bodies so that we are satisfied and have energy to expend.  And so it is with the food we eat from the table of the King.    

The table contains all we'll ever need.  It has the grace for every circumstance, the healing for every hurt, the strength for every challenge, the victory for every battle, the peace for every fear.  What we choose to partake of from the table flows out into our lives.  It frees us up to say yes to the opportunities God places before us because there's enough of Him to go around.  The table never empties.  And because the table never empties, we can trust that we are loved.  Our Father is inviting us into a rich, exciting life with Him.  When we begin to say yes and give everything out of the place of knowing we are loved, people are touched with a power that transforms the lowly into princes and princesses.  It is a love that reshapes orphans into sons and daughters. It happened to the crippled man  in Acts 3.   

"One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon.  Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts.  When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money.  Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!”  So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”  Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong.  He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.  When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him."

I love that Peter and John had nothing by the world's standards to give this man. I feel that way a lot - especially as I look at the precious kids I love in Ethiopia. I feel like I've got nothing to give. What do I do when I stare suffering and need straight in the face? Did you catch Peter's words? "What I have I give you.  In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk."  Peter didn't seem to wonder if he had anything to give.  He was aware of what he already possessed.  He had reached out and taken those things from the table that empowered him to bring healing to this man.  What Peter had was everything.  He had full access to all the power, love and strength of God and he didn't waste time wondering what he should do with it.  It was right there for the taking.  

And, friends, it's there for the taking for us.  God isn't hiding the potential and beauty of our lives from us.  He's holding it out for us.  He's saying "Dinner's ready.  Come and get it."  The love of God and the fullness of life He has for ALL of us is being offered to us at every moment.  Let's not starve ourselves when the table is heavy with food.  That must break God's heart.  It's all for you.  Every last crumb.  Dare to believe it and watch your life be transformed.  God is GOOD.  He is FOR us.  Dig in.

All I know is that I have this one life, these few breaths.  What do I have to give?  I can only give what I have. And it turns out what I have is all that God is. 

*italics taken from Jessica Davis' "For Love's Sake"