What in the world is wrong with me. Where do I even begin? For the sake of time and probably saving you from boredom and laughter, I want to focus on one specific area of weakness in my life that God has put on my heart and soul recently. Shying away from the topic of marriage for a week, I move outside of my home, outside of Michigan and even outside of America to take a moment to look at the way a large majority of the people in our world live. That is where I will begin to probe into the question, anger, confusion, and awe that God has been impressing upon me.
Before heading out into the world, though, I begin in Michigan. I was sitting in a lawn chair a few mornings ago; sipping on some coffee and giggling as I watched the triplet two year old boys that I nanny run around, bringing me endless piles of dirt and bugs. The sweet peace of the morning was soon interrupted, though, by a tremendous feeling of guilt and worthlessness. Strange? I thought so too. I took a moment to look at the sweet, lovable boys that have become a part of my world. They bring joy into my life every day. I truly have a wonderful job. Not only that, but I have been blessed with a beautiful marriage in which there is love, godliness, selflessness, and affection. These are attributes I never want to take for granted. On top of a marriage we love, Andrew and I both come from grounded Christian families and honestly, we really don’t have any major issues to complain about. The Lord’s abundant grace has shown itself in our sinful lives and sinful choices more times than we could EVER account for.
Don’t get me wrong; I have definitely had my share of pain. Yet, I have been given so much. Most people in America have been given much; much more than we realize on a day to day basis. I think it is way too easy for us to focus on the pain in our lives and let it cripple us from seeing the immense blessings God has given, and for the most part I’m not really talking about material blessings. I say “cripple” because in not realizing the simple joys in life, we miss the great freedom and, well, joy in realizing God blesses us in some very simple ways.
In those few moments in the backyard of a home in Grand Rapids, Michigan; I was slapped in the face with these reminders.
So how does the rest of the world factor into this thought process? Ten years ago, my family took a trip to India for the summer. We spent six weeks working in an orphanage, visiting prisons, a leprosy colony, some small churches, markets, cities, towns, and villages. Within these six weeks, we experienced extremely raw circumstances that have stuck with me, even to this day. We witnessed cows being worshiped along with people dying in the streets. We saw men and women doing intense manual labor, only to make pennies a day. We saw thousands, yes, thousands of the worst squatter “homes” I had ever seen. As far as the eye could see, layer upon layer of tarps and sewage made up these “homes”. There were children playing on the mountains of trash and people everywhere in dirt encrusted rags. I really can’t even begin to explain it. We saw lepers with arms, fingers, and every other part of their body decaying, while they still lived. I was 12 years old, yet while walking away from that colony, for the first time ever, I thanked God for my fingers, toes, and other parts of my body that I had taken for absolute granted every day.
Do you think these may be extreme examples? They aren’t. This is the way a LARGE majority of the world lives. That is just a fact. You don’t hear about it because they aren’t the stories that make us feel good or really inspire us to “become better” or “achieve more.” These are the stories we like to skim over. I am guilty of this. We drive past many suburban neighborhoods on a daily basis and probably think these are fairly “normal” and “modest” homes and ways of life. Well, there are a billion people in India and it’s not their way of life. Not all of them live in poverty, but the numbers that I saw that do live in abject poverty were so overwhelming, I couldn’t have begun to imagine it if I hadn’t seen if for myself.
Another element that stuck out to me in India, something less materialistic but nonetheless true and sometimes tragic, is that marriages are not brought about by love, but instead by arrangement; often leaving a bride to not meet her groom until the wedding day itself. Love is a bonus. And that is a normality of life. It is so easy to think of this as another world; another dimension. I have to remind myself that these are people; REAL people. And this is their reality. Too many people, as a normal daily occurrence, face the fear and anxiety of where to find their next meal; and I know that some of them are believers in Christ, given this life and existence by our sovereign Lord. They did not choose this life or culture. Yet it is the life that they have; the only life that they know and will probably ever know.
Likewise I did not choose my life, yet I have been given so much. The words from the book of Luke, “To whom much is given, much is required” haunt me, in light of my life. This is the train of thought that hit me sitting in that back yard in Michigan. What am I even supposed to do with that verse? I know I have been given much; that honestly is an understatement. I am not rich by American standards, but I do have MUCH; love, comfort, hope, a future, and even living in America where there are endless resources, connections, and opportunities. What does “much is required” even mean? There is a reason God has placed me here, now, and with what He has given me, and I don’t want to miss it! I don’t want to live my life mundanely; seeking my own comfort and selfish ambition every day! What is the point of that?! I could die right at this moment and in that moment I will become nothing more than a memory. Wow. That’s a sobering thought. The only thing that matters about this life is how we honor our Lord in it, because that is ALL that will be left once we die.
What is REQUIRED of us? “MUCH” is “REQUIRED”. If we truly believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, what are we to do with these words?! Follow them, obviously, but that is where I feel stuck. I am beginning to pray that God reveals His Will for my life. I am praying this a lot more regularly than I ever have.
Just like those who live in the slums of the world, I did not choose where I was born. Yet, I CAN choose what I do with what I have been given.
How do I even begin to know what it means to use my time, money, energy, thoughts, etc. in a way that glorifies God, brings me closer to Him, and makes an impact for His kingdom?–Journal Entry.
I will leave you with that, because that is exactly where I am at now. I wish I had a more clear answer; felt more in control and aware of what exactly this “much” is that is required of me, but I don’t have the answer yet. I have awareness, and may I be faithful with that awareness and pursue action because of it.
Gosh. My prayer is that even as I am writing all of this, that these not just be words of inspiration that sound good that evoke feeling in myself for a moment, but that these words keep me from complacency. For I know that I am accountable for them; and that is a sobering fact.