Friday, January 18, 2013


I awoke this morning still very weary. Pulling back the covers, my bare feet swung over the edge of the bed and fell onto soft, plush, warm, clean carpet. I took a breath of clean Michigan air, albeit a bit dry. Pulling the blind I watched 8 deer wander through the front yard.  I walked to the closet and sorted through several shirts before choosing one. Without dusting it off, I simply pulled it from the clothes rack, and slipped into it, pulled on a pair of jeans, opened the bedroom door, walked down the steps and to the kitchen. I spun the corner cabinet and pulled out the box of 'Life' cereal, turned around to the refrigerator, opened the door and seized the chilled, fresh milk container. Opening another upper cabinet, I reached for a bowl, dropped my hand and pulled open the silverware drawer taking a clean spoon without barely a glance. I settled into a clean and plush kitchen chair glancing out the sliding glass door and taking in the light snowfall. I poured my cereal, poured my milk, and commenced to allow my palette to savor the mix of flavors without a thought to bacteria. I did this all in the space of 2-3 minutes. An impossible scenario just two mornings ago. Who am I? How did I land here? What grace has befallen me? I stare at this picture, I feel lifetimes separate us, but in reality only a few days, and a couple thousand miles. Who is she? Does she deserve this? I sit here, she sits there. Me in my palace, her in her rubble. What am I to do? Be grateful you say? For what? For my soft carpeted floors, for my box of cereal, for my refrigerator, for my glass window, for my clothes? Don't get me wrong, I am of all men most grateful, but sometimes the flavor of gratefulness is bittersweet. I better understand Mother Teresa's compulsion to seize and remove all carpet from facilities that became her places of dwelling and outreach. It's sometimes hard to enjoy such comforts when those to whom you minister languish on beds of rock and concrete. It's hard to enjoy the comfort of the recliner when a child reposes somewhere on a broken down wicker seat, or a stone, or just simply is reduced to sitting in the dirt, swallowed up by dust, and ashes, and hunger, and pain. Eyes stare in bewilderment, 'who are you?' they ask. Her eyes ask questions her tongue cannot speak. "Can you save me? Will you save me? You go, I stay. Why? You choose, I can't." Thousands of children in Haiti are teetering on the fragile edge of existence. I want to save them all, but only God can do that. It's a somber morning for me, reflection is part of restoration, so I open the window of my heart today, a cold breeze flows in, but I also feel a sense of strange warmth in it as well, ah, there it is, hope is in the air. It refuses to be shut out, it is persistent, and I am grateful for that hope. That is what I am thankful for this morning. I stare back into these eyes and I see, glimmering ever so weakly, but glimmering all the same, hope lives! In both of us, hope lives. We are connected by this mighty cord today. Whatever this day may bring, may it bring us all much more hope and promise, moment by moment, day by day, one day soon this child may be granted a different life, a new opportunity, because hope lives! Be blessed today.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A religious or spiritual message without a cup of cold water is a hot, dusty wind to a lost and parched soul. The opposite is also true: humanitarian help without the gospel is a kind moral gesture, but fails to meet the essential need of us all, rich or poor, waters of eternal life through Jesus Christ. Humanitarian aid is temporary. Sin’s stain of suffering on this world is permanent. The gospel is eternal. I am told that despite her tireless lifetime efforts to help the poor, Mother Teresa died in fear and doubt about her own salvation…were her efforts good enough? In his conversations with me and in his actions, Pastor Robinson has shown no less compassion than Teresa for human suffering. However, he has clearly demonstrated greater Biblical understanding. We all know how he sacrifices his own health and well-being, and he works to exhaustion, in his efforts to help his people. However, all of his obedient human effort: is in close connection with, directly points to, never gets confused with, and never replaces the gospel.

The last day we were in Haiti, I had the opportunity to talk with Pastor Robinson in the Toyota while we were running medical errands. I came to tears as I told him I wished I could stay and help longer, and that I would miss him so much having come to know him well over the hours here in Traverse City and on our trip. He reassured me that I have a calling back in the USA that I must honor, a path I must follow. He told me to be faithful where God had placed me, that all of this is passing, that it is the eternal that matters…and the eternal will be good because Christ has made it so. I immediately thought of something he had said to me riding to Lake Michigan in the car this past summer: that all of the riches of the USA are also passing, that it is the Kingdom of God that matters, and it is worth our every investment. Those two dots connected in my mind, and I have been comforted ever since.

Pastor, I share your achingly beautiful but achingly painful emotions as I settle back in to life back here at home. Let us all be re-energized to serve the Lord together where He has placed us, not out of guilt or in an attempt to earn God’s favor, but out of deep gratitude for what He has done for us in Christ. And let us take comfort in Pastor Robinson’s own example and words.
My heartfelt thanks to all the team members for their sacrifice, work, and love. It was a privilege to walk this part of the journey with you all. Love you.