When Our Worlds Collide

What happened in Haiti this past week was devastating.  The news coverage showed faces of the hurting.  And the dying.  And the lost.   It is heartbreaking to see the impoverished become even more so.  To know that within seconds a natural disaster can wipe out mass amounts of people.  People who seemingly didn't have a chance anyway.

The same thing happened in 2004 with the horrid Indian Ocean tsunami.

And the AIDS crisis in Africa in the 90s.

The wars.  The famine.  The floods.  The cyclones. 

The tragedies that strike third world countries bring us to our knees.  In the same breath that we are begging God for mercy on the people who are affected, we are praising Him for our own comforts and conveniences.  We make donations to relief efforts.  We pack up extra shirts from the backs of our pregnant closets and drop them off at donation sites from the backs of our oversized mini-vans and SUVs.  We sponsor children and tack their wallet sized pictures on our refrigerators.  We weep at commercials on our big screen televisions that tell us that it only takes pennies a day to send a child in another country to school with shoes on her feet.  And we beg our children to finish up their Happy Meals and chocolate milkshakes lest they forget that there are starving children around the world.

I stand ashamed and guilty at the foot of the Cross.

Not that any of those things are bad.  But my complacency is appalling.

I weep the same tears over pitiful looking children on my television screen that I weep over my laundry room when I am feeling entirely overwhelmed by the daunting task that lies ahead of me.  I breathe a sigh of relief as those boxes and bags of clothes that are dropped off at the donation site because not only does it make ME feel good to be doing something proactive, it is freeing up some room for a little stop by Old Navy.  My speeches to my children about "starving children" aren't always about the desire to instill awareness in my kids, but more times than not it is about trying to manipulate their attitudes into being easier for me to handle.

If you don't know what I'm talking about and are appalled that I would even brave the keys to type such words, then I'm fine with your judgement.  But, my inclination is that the majority of you know exactly what I'm talking about.  Our hearts start out in the right places, desiring to develop true hearts of compassion and generosity, but we drift towards angles of self-centeredness.

It's ugly.  But unfortunately it's true.

And you know what stinks?

I know better.

I was young when I was an MK on the mission field.  And though I have distinct memories of the poverty and neediness of the Gospel, I will not sit here and tell you that my entire life has been devoted to the plight of the needy.  Because of my age, my experiences were just part of the norm for me.  I didn't make special efforts to note the significant.  Or record the prolific.  I was just a kid.  All that stuff I saw was as normal for me as Spongebob is for my boys.

But, at the same time, I DO know what I saw.

And maybe more than seeing the actual people who were living the lives of such devastation, were the missionaries.  The men and women of God that were willing to put their very safety and the safety of their families on the line for the sake of those people that had nothing to give in return.  I could talk about my mom and dad and their remarkable faith journeys.  But I could also tell you about a hundred more men and women just like them.

Please hear me.  Giving to organizations and being charitable and allowing our hearts to be stirred by crisis is the amazing work of the Father in us.  I believe that with all my heart.  I know that not everyone is called to full-time ministry as is obvious by my husband's secular job and my choice to be in my comfortable Bible Belt home raising my family.

What my hearts aches for is that I forget too easily.  It is easier for me to concentrate on MY own set of issues and MY own set of problems and play in MY own little world where everything fits MY way of doing things.  I'd rather focus on MY wants.  MY needs.  What would make this life easier for ME.

Disasters, like the one in Haiti, bring us (and I mean, ME.  I'm talking to myself.) back to reality that the rest of the world is out there.  That they need Jesus.  That they need what we as abundant Americans can offer.  But, as is usually the case, media coverage will begin to die down, our minds will begin to shift gears, and our blessed lives will begin their routines again.  Until something else happens to bring us to our knees.

I don't have the answers.  Not even close.  Because I'm still dealing with my own heart that is heavy with conviction, and I am praying that God will teach me how to throw off the chains of complacency and take up the yoke of urgency. 

Urgent to pray.  Urgent to give.  Urgent to be aware.  Urgent to become like Jesus.


Lord, make me urgent.


My apologies for this "thinky" post.  Many of you don't visit here to hear me preach a sermon or ramble about convictions.  And I don't blame you.  I wouldn't want to listen to me either. Light-hearted stories and the antics of my family are usually what abound here.  But in the spirit of authenticity, I must tell you that the Lord is currently walking me through a valley of self-examination and self-dissection.  These travels with the Lord are not fun for me.  They hurt.  And the road is hard and long.  And He and I discuss often as to the necessity of these valley trudges.  One area in particular that He continually brings to my mind is missions.  I openly confess that I have not acted upon the tremendous legacy that I have been left, and I am choosing daily (though sometimes it is an all out battle) to surrender to the work that God the Father has chosen for me to do. 

I will tell you that I am not feeling convicted to sell all of my possessions and pack up my family for the jungle.  And although I have the desire to travel and be in the bowels of these countries, I don't know that it is a true calling for ministry. 

What I am feeling convicted about is raising awareness.  Raising awareness of the world's people who are in desperate need of not only clean drinking water and food on a daily basis, but of Eternal Water and Food.  And raising awareness for the tremendous need of prayer for the missionary warriors that brave those front-lines.

I can't do much.

But I can do that.

I will soon begin dedicating a portion of my blog to mission's awareness, and I am excited to see where the Lord takes us on this journey.  If one person is stirred to pray.  Or to give.  Or to go.  Then His work is being done. 

The mission organization that my family chooses to sponsor is the International Mission Board (part of the Southern Baptist Convention) which is funded by gifts through the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.  But there are other well-established and reputable organizations that hold the Lord's vision for missions dear and sacred.


Marla Taviano said...

Can I scrape this post off the walls of your blog and stick it on mine?

Because you have NAILED IT. This is EXACTLY how I'm feeling and just can't articulate. I want to do more. And I want to WANT to do more.

And I am thrilled to get a peek into your heart and thrilled that it beats so much like mine and thrilled that you are struggling too (that didn't sound nice) and THRILLED to have a friend to walk this road with.

Love you! I know it's still early in our relationship, but I can't help it.

You had me at hello.

Elizabeth said...

I feel the same way as Marla. But I tend to become quiet and sullen rather than pushed into action. You push me and challenge me, and I love that about you.

Cathy said...

I hope toes were stepped on in a GOOD way. Christ didn't sugar coat things. You spoke truth. And that is good.

I, myself, have been thinking WHY does it take something like this (Haiti) to bring the mindset that I currently have. Why can't I have this Christ-mindedness ALWAYS?

You put it into words beautifully, my friend.

Gretchen said...

Your "mission" right now is that little herd of boys in your house, and the women who are being touched by this blog. Never assume that you are not part of missions. The mission field you are in right now happens to have a McD's nearby and a computer screen. You are still ministering in a beautiful, Christlike way. Thank you for touching my heart with your transparency today. Love ya, girl!

theelizabethhighsmith said...

i am in your boat, i totally understand. thank you for being brave and real in setting the boat to sail.

Jo said...

One of your best posts ever, my girl! I enjoy all your posts. Some are cute, some are sweet and some are downright hilarious! However, this one really grabs us all where we live! I believe that each and every one of us has a mission in life, and each one is different from the other. I have to agree with what "New Every Morning" commented. You are touching people in a way that, not so many years ago, people could never dream of. You make people think. With their heads and with their hearts. I love your heart!

Keep on doing what your heart feels..it's all good.

Aunt Jo

Tiffani said...

My dearest girl.

What a challenge you have set forth...what a way to vocalize what so many of us are feeling and can't quite get the words out...

I am proud that you had something on heart but didn't keep it all wrapped up inside of you...even though it would've seemed "safe" there...many many lies from the enemy could've kept you from writing this post and I'm glad you just did it...you had a conviction, you shared it and it moved us.

To God Be the Glory!

I love you, favoire. Always.

Jim said...

You've left me "wordless", my wise daughter. As has been written already in so many words, you have opened an issue of each one's mind and spirit, and spoken for the unspoken hearts. How truly is God's hand upon your heart and mind, and through your fingers on the keys, He has brought forth a word of wise counsel.

I praise Him for His choice and your submission.


Gretchen said...

You've brought me to tears & to my knees. Not very comfortable. But perfect conditions for Jesus. Thank You, Jesus, for placing me in Amber's mission field. In Your precious name. Amen.

Terry Lewallen said...

I wish I were as good with words as you are....thanks for sharing your heart and helping me put words to what my heart has been screaming, too! The "problems" of my life that I often let overwhelm me aren't "problems" at all when put in perspective. Wish I could just broadcast your post to the entire world of believers out there! If you don't mind I think I would like to share it with my Bible study girls next week...we met this morning and spent time praying for the people of Haiti.
I think God is using you in a big way....thanks for being obedient to our Father!
I look forward to the "missions awareness" addition to the blog.

Unknown said...

got to this from marla and shared the post in Fb. bless you.

Becca~CapturingSimpleJoys said...

I do know what you're talking about. Very powerful post Amber and I too think you nailed it. I could go on and on but in reality I'm in total agreement with what you've said here. Amen!

Jennifer said...

I loved every, single, brutal word.

You inspire me.

I love your thinky posts.


Anonymous said...

Please don't apologize for being transparent here. I love the opportunity to know you even better.