We're finally feeling like we're back in the swing of things in America. There are times when I think of Haiti, think of people like Ben and Heidi and think that our life in Port-au-Prince almost feels like a strange dream...a terrific novel I once read that wasn't real and yet I can't seem to forget it. I think of the characters and wonder what they are doing, much like when Gilmore Girls ended and I couldn't help but imagine Rory and Lorelai sitting in their cute little cottage wittily bantering back and forth. Except some of those characters were us, and we're right here, so far away.
I find myself in the most random moments stunned that Haiti is real. Driving home last night in the dark, on smooth, quiet roads lit up like a runway, Haiti memories washed over me. Haiti is still there. Even though we're here. It's real. Real. And we're returning. These thoughts stun me.
Is this how Edmund felt the first time he walked back through that wardrobe...back into what he knew, what was familiar? Once he was snuggled up tight in his own bed in his own room did Narnia feel like a dream?
Being back, it's been a real struggle to remember how we lived before moving to Haiti. A full year before we decided to "go" we were on a journey to try and live out our convictions about the poor and the helpless while living right here in the United States. We had yet to consider leaving the United States to love and care for the poor in a hands-on, kind of way. But surely there are ways to care for the poor while living right here. Right? We were on a mission to figure out how to do that.
How about a collection of posts about that journey? A short series of posts offering some things to consider if your heart is already broken for the poor, and you know God is gently nudging you to "do" something to live out your faith and the gospel towards the least of these while living in the United States? I'm sure you all have some beautiful ideas and thoughts to add to the mix as well.
We're here for two more months, and surely we don't have to quit living out our convictions just because of where we live. We have lots to learn, and want to grow in these areas as well. So as always, we are thankful so many of you are in this with us.
I'm praying God uses these posts as an encouragement to so many of you who write to us saying you want to "do something". God has lovingly gripped your heart. You are ready to put actions to your beliefs, but you know you're not leaving the United States any time soon. We're no experts, just people who God is gently stretching and teaching. When John the Baptist sent word asking if Jesus was the Messiah, Jesus sent word back to John saying, "Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them."
Wouldn't it have been a relief if Jesus had replied, "Well, I'm going around sharing the gospel, teaching people, discipling them, inviting them to church, so duh." Maybe those things were important to Jesus too, but they obviously were not the things He used to sum up his ministry or his on-earth mission statement. Instead, Jesus relayed information to John about how the gospel He was teaching was being lived out among the sick, the poor, and the outcasts. Giving sight to the blind, mobility to the lame, healing to the sick, hearing to the deaf, life to the dead, and good news to the poor are tangible things, that obviously matter to God.
While we're incredibly jacked up individuals, what our hearts desire (while simultaneously falling short of this) is to be Christ followers whose lives imitate our Savior. If someone asked us the same question John the Baptist asked Jesus, could we say, "Yes. We're followers of Christ. His gospel has so changed us that we can't help but see that same gospel come alive and lived out among people just like us...the broken...the sick...the desperate...the helpless."
We know our best efforts to serve the poor and advocate for the helpless do not earn us right standing before a holy God. Jesus' death alone has done that for us. We have nothing of worth to offer God, and our best efforts to live out God's heart towards the poor will never gain us right standing before God. Our works, our "bad" ones, and even our "best ones" are still filthy rags to the Lord. We don't explore these ideas and make changes in our lives in order to pat ourselves on the back, or because we want God to pat us on the back. If we belong to God, He has already pat us on the back and called us sons/daughters. So when we fail to care for the poor our standing is not compromised before God. When we succeed, our standing before God is not changed either. As children of God, it truly is "finished", Christ's righteousness is credited to us, and by God's sweet grace we are granted access and accepted by God the Father.
But like every other command in scripture, God's guidance and direction in our lives is always an invitation to know Jesus better...to intimately lean up against the character and nature of God. A gift. His commands have a way of pointing our eyes towards heaven and teaching our hearts to long for His Kingdom. Allowing God to make our hearts tender towards the least of these and teach us how to live out the gospel towards our fellow man will always be an invitation to swim down deep, and cannon-ball ourselves into the rich, abundant life Jesus is forever offering His children. In that way, learning to care about the things Jesus cares about is always something that should get our hearts pounding...wildly pounding...as we pray for His will to be done on Earth (through us) as it's done in Heaven.
So how about we all come together through these upcoming posts, pray, think, ask hard questions, and share how we are feeling led to live out our convictions to care for the poor, the orphan, the widow, and be a voice for the voiceless as we live in the United States. Us...for two more months. You...for however long God has you here. Sound like a plan?
This post does not have a picture. Disturbing.