Last week I shared a bit about our family vacation to the beach. What I didn't share in that post were the not-so-happy or comfortable thoughts that were in my mind during the entire week at the beach. Thoughts that someone was missing. That our family was not complete. That I more than likely have a future child living somewhere in Ethiopia right now. We have said that we will take a child up to age 3 - our agency translates that to mean up to 47 months. As there are relatively few families who have parameters above 12 months old for an adoptive child, that probably means that we will get a 2 or 3 year old. Assuming that this adoption will be completed over the next year and a half or so, that means that I have a child who is alive at this moment. Who is he or she? Are they still living with their birth-family or are they in an orphanage somewhere? Maybe they're alone on the street. While we were celebrating the joy of being together as a family was my son or daughter grieving over the loss of their own family? While we were enjoying the contents of a ridiculously over-stocked pantry, was my little boy or girl starving somewhere? Did they eat at all during those days that we feasted?
Let me be clear: I don't feel guilty for taking a vacation with my family. At the same time, I don't want the things that I find pleasure in to rob me of the ache inside that God has blessed me with over the last two years. I'm so thankful that He is teaching my heart to break for the things that break His. I don't want to forget - EVER - that there are millions of people who don't have the most basic necessities of life. I want that knowledge to pour through me, washing away the perceived safety and ownership and comfortable-ness of life that I live. Nothing that I have is MINE - it's all God's - so what will it take to really make me live every single moment that way? Yeah, so it's hitting me hard right now, because I have a child out there somewhere, but will that really have changed when we finally reach the day that we bring the 4th member of our family home? We'll still have so many brothers and sisters around the world who are hurting, who don't have enough food, or medicine, or shelter, and provisions for their children. I NEED to stay uncomfortable in my own life - because until God grabs my attention and shows me how selfishly I've been living, I generally don't do anything about making the necessary changes. I forget to "live simply so that others can simply live." My wants starts becoming "needs" in my mind, and I find myself justifying expenditures or lifestyle choices with "my" money - forgetting to ask God how He wants me to use His possessions that He has given me stewardship over.
I have a tendency to "shut down" mentally when faced with the overwhelming sorrow of others - "I can't really do anything about it anyway, so I just won't think about it right now." Instead I am learning to keep my eyes and my heart open to the pain - to really weep with those who weep. And although feeling a burden and a heartache over the broken pieces in this fallen old world isn't exactly comfortable, it's such a good thing. It drives me to my knees and it reminds me to turn over every moment and every possession to my Creator. It makes me long for Heaven - for the day when His nail-scarred hand will wipe away every tear. Until then, I want Him to continually mold me and bring me closer to His image - to go on making me uncomfortable, because it is in those places that I learn who He really is - a God who made Himself to be one of us, and therefore identifies in a very real way with the hurting and the broken. A God who asks us to be His hands and feet, to show His love to everyone that we meet. A God who gives dire warnings to those who refuse to be compassionate to the wounded.
"Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me." Matthew 25:41-45