It seems I can’t be a normal person and work during the day. Oh no! My brain has to wait until after midnight to form cohesive thoughts. The problem is that I’ve had to get up fairly early lately so I’ve not done a lot of writing. My heart feels it. I was so burdened last night that I simply couldn’t stay in bed. Even though I knew I had to get up at 5, I was up and in front of my computer until 2 just typing away and spewing all over the keyboard.
I’m glad I didn’t post that little bit of crazy.
After hearing four or five conversations that reminded me of how messed up our country is, I simply had to yell at someone and the computer was the only “one” awake. It was a great rant, really, and it was true. I had my facts and I had my stones and I was casting them at everyone. Everyone that, in my opinion, is systematically tearing apart a country that was once admired by most of the world. Everyone from the media, to the politicians, to those on the opposite side of certain debates, to “Christians” that don’t seem to feel the need to follow Christ, to whoever created onesies for adults. Really? Onesies? I vomited everything onto the screen as quickly as my fingers could type and then I went back to bed.
And I laid there.
And I was afraid.
And I cried.
And I was convicted.
You see, my husband trains pastors in countries where they have little or no access to education. He’s honored to work with a ministry called Global Advance and we had just been to their yearly dinner in which many of the front-line pastors in those countries came to share what God is doing among their people. I was shocked by the suffering around the world, the violence that families deal with daily and the need for basic things such as food. I was also amazed by what God is doing in the midst of such hardships. But what God brought to mind wasn’t the stories of horror and hopelessness. He brought to mind what the people of God were doing, through His love and power, to bring life and hope back into that hopelessness. It was the perseverance that they had in the face of what seems to be impossible odds. And it was the assurance they have that this world is not their home that enabled them to hold on loosely to possessions, position and even life itself.
As I tried to sleep, I remembered listening to a leader from India whose brother was killed by Pakistani terrorists. When the media, who use their power to keep the animosity between the two countries going, asked how he felt and if he hated the terrorists he said, “No, I don’t hate them. The greatest threat to us all isn’t one another, it’s the hate within our own hearts.” Ouch! That one hurt. Anyway, instead of wanting revenge and hating his enemies, God led this man to pray for them and to orchestrate a meeting between Pakistani and Indian pastors in which they worked on and prayed about ways to stop the hatred. It’s the first time in his life that he had been in the same room with men from Pakistan and he cried as he hugged them.
I listened to another pastor from Zimbabwe, a country where eighty percent of the people are unemployed, as he humbly shared his love for his people and gratitude for the assistance they received from Global Advance. It wasn’t until after he spoke that I realized this man had left a cooperate job to be a pastor of a country where people have no money, yet, somehow he has been empowered by God to feed thousands of children every single day.
I listened as a pastor from Lebanon shared about the Syrian refugee crisis. He shared that a third to one half of the entire country, 11 million people, have fled with nothing but the clothes on their backs and nowhere to go. Half of these refugees are children. As I tried to sleep in my warm bed with a roof over my head I tried to fathom the fear and desperation of a mom who had nowhere safe to take her children. And then I remembered that he and the churches in his area see this as possibly the only opportunity they will have to share the love and truth of Christ with Muslim people in the Middle East. I didn’t realize that Lebanon is the only Muslim country where it is legal to be a Christian or share the gospel, and God is bringing millions to their doorstep. What an opportunity to bring life and love and healing to a hurting group of people that could very well turn into the greatest missionary force for peace that the area has ever seen.
Story after story could be told from this group of brave men and women. Stories about the Esther Project that mobilizes people to go and speak life and value into women in countries where they are devalued and discarded. Stories of business men and women that teach on how to build sustainable economies in countries with terrible unemployment problems like Zimbabwe and Brazil. Stories of people who bring medical attention to the dying and aid to the persecuted and the displaced. Story upon story of God’s people that live in countries much more messed up than mine but who choose to be an agent of unity and healing rather than an agent of anger and hatred.
And I lay in my warm bed shocked at how easily I can allow people to make me angry enough to spew hateful words onto my computer screen when my whole intention of writing Simply Me and Jeans was to encourage people. All people. People that share my faith or not. People that hold the same opinions I do or not. People that hate me or not. I long to be a voice of love, encouragement and honesty as I share the struggles of life with you. I long for God to remind me of His truths as I write. I long to shore up my own faith by reminding myself of what He has done for me and hearing about what He has done for you. After all, I think the world is only going to get darker. Not to be discouraging but I believe that will be the end of the story before the beginning of the fairy tale. However, God has a purpose for us and it seems that His people rise to greatness when things are at their darkest. That’s what I pray for us all.
Philippians 2:14-18 (NLT)
Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless. But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy. Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy.