10.02.2008

a cause beyond yourself

I've been doing a lot of thinking about life. (how's that for a big, nebulous topic?) It's all of a sudden become painfully obvious to me that my outlook and general mentality toward life has gradually slipped into self-centeredness over the last year or so. It happened very stealthily so that it was barely perceptible, but now it seems so obvious. Like when you see a child for the first time in over a year and you comment to his momma, "wow, he's grown SO MUCH!" the growth is obvious to the visitor who hasn't seen the kid in a while, but to the mom, not so much. I've been the mom, but all of a sudden I feel like the visitor. I'm sorting through my feelings on this realization... and these are going to be raw, random thoughts; hopefully they'll end up somewhat cohesive.

This train of thought started when Rob and I went to the Art*Music*Justice tour for his birthday two days ago. I bought the tickets as a surprise birthday present, thinking "hey, a bunch of artists we like are going to be playing together, how fun!" but I had no idea what the concert was about. It was basically five musicians being a voice for the voiceless. They used their talents (and *woah*, what talent!) to showcase injustices that have touched their hearts. There were basically three causes they were championing: slavery, genocide, and human trafficking & prostitution of young girls. Each of these artists had been to foreign countries with an orginization called International Justice Mission and had purposefully exposed themselves to harsh evils that are being done against helpless people.

Injustices. It's not an easy thing to hear or see, it's upsetting and can shake us to the core to see cruelty being done to a fellow human... and it should. My natural tendency is to avoid stories like that. I don't want to hear about strong, cruel men owning and abusing weaker men, imprisoning them with not only whips and shackles but also by demoralizing them and crushing their very humanness. I don't want to read personal eyewitness accounts of women and children clubbed to death by militant men from neighboring countries. It's not entertaining to watch a video of a 15-year-old Chinese girl (who lived with every Western comfort I do) telling how she was lured with the promise of a "summer job" into the waiting hands of a kidnapper who took her thousands of miles into another country and sold her to a brothel owner who made her "work" 15-20 hours a day. I naturally want to shield myself from the knowledge (and emotion) that those things are happening in this day and age... and I definitely don't want to personalize it further by knowing that they are happening to real people with real feelings and real faith in the same God I worship. I'd rather choose to insulate myself with all the things that concern ME... like the day-to-day stresses of my job, my never-quite-enough bank account, getting to visit my family at Christmas, my new wardrobe wants, what I'm going to make for dinner, etc. etc. etc. I don't think these things in and of themselves are bad or wrong, but when they are ALL I ever concern myself with, that's when the selfishness creeps in. And I've let it completely consume me, almost without realizing it. It's easy because those are the things in my world. That is what I do all the time to survive. I mean, I can't NOT work and I really do have to make dinner... so I can't get away from these things, nor should I (I mean, never making dinner isn't so great on a marriage, let alone a body, y'know?) I just don't want the day-to-day things that only concern me to become *all* I'm about.

I don't want to hop on a bandwagon or crusade saying "how dare you think about fashion when there are starving kids out there!" because I think that's extreme and not sustainable for very long. What I want is to have an over-arching cause that is bigger than my own comfortable, clean little world, and the people that enter into my bubble. It is important to "look well unto the ways of my household" but it's not all. Managing my daily life well is good and worthy, but not to the exclusion of rescuing those who are sliding into hell. Even though I don't like hearing the hard stories, I think it's a very good thing to expose myself to them and allow the Lord to touch me and break my heart with the things that break His. He is close to the brokenhearted and near to the opressed... and I don't want to close my ears and eyes to them! I want my world to be more than all about me. I don't want to forget the things I saw in Africa, like Granny Bandy and her 12 grandchildren that she supported in a house with no trace of food in it because their parents had all died of AIDS. As much as it's uncomfortable for me to think about these things, I know it's good. I want to wake up to what God is doing in the world, both on a large scale and a small, personal scale, and not fool myself into thinking that my little reality IS reality. Kinda like the proverbial ostrich in the sand. One thing I can do to jolt me out of my ignorance and insulation is to get those difficult stories in front of me on a regular basis. Exposing myself to the pain of others is a sure way to forget my trivial frustrations and get me in touch with a bigger view of people, God, and what He's doing to set people free... and how I can be a part of that. Another thing I know I can do is to just start giving. Money. It may be money that I "don't have" (right, like I don't buy Starbucks whenever I feel like it), but I know that God will provide for what He's putting on my heart to do, because He says it in 2 Corinthians 9:10-11: "He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God." That's a promise I want to bank on.

The last two days I've been asking the Lord to touch my heart, and rescue me from an accicentally self-centered view of life. It's just so easy to get completely wrapped up in me: my problems, my issues, and my concerns. There's more to my life than me! Three things happened recently that have been moving me along in this process. Yesterday I called my mom and was just kinda catching up, and I started telling her about the Art*Music*Justice concert. I told her about IJM's work in freeing the girls from the brothels, and the aftercare programs they are in... I had just intended on relaying the information to her, but as I talked about what the Lord had done for one girl there in particular; hearing her daily prayers amongst mocking roommates, listening to her cries, assembling a group of police on a mission to bust the brothel, and her subsequent rescue, I found my heart breaking. At one point, I couldn't even finish my sentence on the phone to my mom... which was okay because she was crying with me on the other end of the phone. I don't know pain. I think that because I don't have enough money to fly home for Christmas, I'm "suffering". And because I think that way, I don't know the mightiness of God. He *moves mountains* on behalf of the broken! And I want to have a shovel. Whether my "shovel" is prayer, or giving money, or going to the hurting people, I don't know yet... but I want to be open. I want to be consumed with something bigger than myself. I want to "be about my Father's businness". Mainly, I want to be a means of grace. I know I don't have to *be* a young girl enslaved in a brothel to experience the freeing power of God... but hearing stories like that where He displays His defending power like that gives me all kinds of faith that He will hear my cries when I'm hurting, and that He answers and delivers and saves, both that girl from her physical slavery AND me from my mental/emotional slavery to my own selfishness. I recently discovered the song, "Mighty To Save" (I know... where have I been?) and the chorus has been resonating in my spirit for the past 4 or 5 days:

"Saviour, He can move the mountains,
My God is Mighty to save,
He is Mighty to save.
Forever, Author of salvation,
He rose and conquered the grave,
Jesus conquered the grave.
"

I want to re-connect with THAT God. I think I am.

The second thing that stirred me yesterday was a conversation I had with a friend who is going through trials in her marriage. Even though I'm not in the same position as she is, I think the Lord used me to speak words to her that brought hope and life. That humbled me... and made me realize that I don't need to sell all my junk and move to a hut in the heart of Africa to wake up to the reality of suffering. (hmm, that concept can actually hold me back from obeying what the Lord is speaking to me) It's right here. Maybe not human trafficking or tribal kids drinking pond water, but Satan does oppress American Christians, and God still rescues them. Again, I want a shovel!

And then the third thing that moved me was listening to Sara Groves' song "When The Saints" this morning on the way to work. I'd heard it before, but I had never really listened to the words carefullly.

"Lord I have a heavy burden of all I've seen and know
It's more than I can handle
But your word is burning like a fire shut up in my bones
and I can’t let it go

And when I'm weary and overwrought
with so many battles left unfought

I think of Paul and Silas in the prison yard
I hear their song of freedom rising to the stars
And when the Saints go marching in
I want to be one of them

Lord it's all that I can't carry and cannot leave behind
it all can overwhelm me
but I think of all who've gone before them and lived the faithful life
their courage compels me

And when I'm weary and overwrought
with so many battles left unfought

I think of Paul and Silas in the prison yard
I hear their song of freedom rising to the stars

I see the shepherd Moses in the Pharaohs court
I hear his call for freedom for the people of the Lord

And when the Saints go marching in
I want to be one of them
And when the Saints go marching in
I want to be one of them

I see the long quiet walk along the Underground Railroad
I see the slave awakening to the value of her soul

I see the young missionary at the angry spear
I see his family returning with no trace of fear

I see the long hard shadows of Calcutta nights
I see the sisters standing by the dying mans side

I see the young girl huddled on the brothel floor
I see the man with a passion come and kicking down that door

I see the man of sorrow and his long troubled road
I see the world on his shoulders and my easy load

And when the Saints go marching in
I want to be one of them
And when the Saints go marching in
I want to be one of them
"

As she was singing about the struggles of the people who have done great things for God, I was picturing each scenario in my mind.. Paul and Silas in prison, beaten and singing, yet still waiting in faith for their God to rescue them; Moses courageously standing before the world power pleading the cause of God's people; people working to free American slaves and give them worth and life; missionaries dying and paving the way for the Gospel; Mother Teresa ministering comfort to the broken; etc, etc. I was especially impacted by the concept that each of these situations was a showcase for the *faithfulness* of the Lord, and how He calls us and empowers us with faith to do bold things like that for Him. As I was thinking about that, tears were threatening to jump out of my eyes and ruin my makeup, and I started to stop them... but then I realized how opposite that was to what I wanted. I want to be tenderized, I want to *feel* the right emotion when the Lord touches me and shows me a facet of Himself. I want to be humble enough to cry. So I did. (Nearly ran off the road, but hey, I figured if He was doing this, He'd protect me.) What was most impacting was the thought that He has rescued helpless people in impossible situations before, He is doing it now in circumstances I don't even know of... so what makes me think He can't or doesn't want to do the same for ME? He knows the areas of my heart and life that are still imprisoned by sin, and He will set me free. Free to love Him with no concern for how I look to others, free from worry and fear, free to do what He has called me to do. I want to join the line of those who have not wasted their lives, but have taken their "talents" and multiplied them 1000x to turn them back to Him.

No more navel-gazing! Now, where to start??

5 comments:

Lily Pad PR said...

This is amazing Rosanna...

Johanna said...

that's good stuff, Rosanna. Thanks for processing out in the open where others of us can be inspired by it and brought to remember that passion for God to DO things through us. :-) See you tomorrow!

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