Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Inadequacy: My Response to Haiti

I struggle with how to write a response to my trip to Haiti.

I could recount the poverty we saw. But what's the point in trying to describe something that's beyond words?

I could try to explain the massive range of emotions I experienced. But I'm afraid they would sound empty and overdone.

I could tell you about the labor we did, but without feeling the heartbeat, it's unimpressive.

So I choose to tell you one lesson. Just one of many I'm learning. Because that's all I really know how to do. So hang with me as I work my heart into words.

I'm going to go back a few weeks to a conversation I had with a very good friend. She quoted this statement to me,
Adoption apart from Christ is meaningless. No child needs to be more comfortable on their way to hell.

This is a brash statement. And when I heard it, it didn't set right. Even as a Christian, I'm so tempted to say that a caring family can give a child a better life with more opportunity in America than some of the circumstances I saw last week. But that, of course, begs the question, "What is my definition of better?" Apart from Christ, isn't everything hopeless?

The walls God has been working on tearing down came flying back up as soon as I was faced with blatant injustice. I realized that when I said I wanted to help, I meant from a distance. Because I didn't want to feel their pain. Or my conviction. So I put up this wall claiming in arrogance that "it's just the way it is" or "it's all they've ever known." And even so bold to say that they're the lucky ones (in some ways, maybe.) But mostly, this is me being a coward and unable to cope with the weight of reality.

The first night in Haiti, I remembered the conversation about adoption in light of the reaction I was having to what I was seeing, and it dawned on me. I'm so uncomfortable with anything that shouts my inadequacy. I am inadequate to do one single thing that is worth anything apart from Christ. Because at the core of everything,everything, it's Him.

If I gave every single penny I have. And sold everything to devote my life to these people. And carried bucket after bucket of concrete. Or put shoes on every child. Or raised money for education, clean water, hospitals, freedom for sex slaves, the list goes on and on...It wouldn't touch it. Because I am terribly inadequate.

And thank God nothing relies on my ability to be adequate in anything. That realization is the only thing that gives us freedom to have joy or peace or comfort.

His supremacy.
His kingdom.

This is my new prayer.
"We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me."
Colossians 1:28-29

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


I’m thousands of feet off the ground stranded on a round rock about a foot and a half in diameter. It’s almost completely dark. I can hear waves below me, and I’m literally terrified of taking a step in any direction. I think there may be a narrow path somewhere, but I can’t make out where it is. And the fear of taking a step…in any direction is paralyzing.

This was how I pictured myself. And I felt with my entire being.

“Baby, you’re not stuck in some box with no options. You’re still young enough to change your mind and not be miserable. No one’s going to be mad at you.”

And this was my dad speaking truth into my confused state-giving me permission to release myself of all of the pressure and expectations that I thought were placed on me-that I had given myself. This was the beginning to the slow end of the version of myself I had created.

What do you do when you don’t want to do anything because nothing seems right? But you know staying put isn’t an option.

In that conversation, a teeny tiny light shone to a teeny tiny walkway off of the rock that I had stranded myself on. But the longer I looked, the more I thought, the harder I prayed, and eventually the truth hit me in the face like a fierce winter wind. This is grace. This is the answer to the questions I’ve cried out in prayer. This is the way out-but nothing about it is easy.

Why should it be easy?
If it was easy, how much value would I place in it?
And what kind of weak faith would that produce?

So I’ll tip-toe confidently until I’m able to run wildly.

Friday, July 1, 2011


If you think America is your calling, congratulations! You love 5% of the world.

My friend, Stuart, made this comment to church Sunday morning when a team was sharing about their recent trip to Haiti. Needless to say, he was a little fired up and trust me, this was just the tip of the iceberg of what he had to say-it was real and brilliant and raw and God-breathed and beautiful. I wish I could have broadcasted it. It was just another piece to this puzzle I'm working on...

You ever feel like there's a theme to your life? Things that stick out here and penetrating so deep there, that it feels as though it's suddenly no longer just a part of you, but it has somehow become you.

I watched this the other night, and if you haven't, please do. It will change your life. It's all about the poverty and injustice in our world and a desperate cry to DO SOMETHING There was a quote in it that said,

You may choose to look the other way, but may you never say that you did not know.

This hurts and makes our chests tighten and beat a little harder because it either calls us out or calls us all to action.

This is our world.
Those are our brothers.
The truth is simple.
The evidence is overwhelming.
And the need is great.

But I'm afraid, too often, we don't rise to the occasion because we had a long week...our favorite T.V show is on...we can't miss church...we have plans-we always have plans.

Don't get me wrong, things aren't bad. But am I the only one who thinks that we're missing something? Surely there's more to life than what I've been doing? Surely...surely this ache in my chest is for something bigger.

This is a quote that I read from Radical. It is from Jim Elliot's journal. And if you don't know who Jim Elliot is, here's a short bio: He and his missionary team were killed while taking the gospel to hostile tribe that had never heard. His wife eventually led that chief to the Lord after Jim's death. It's an amazing redemption story. But before he left he wrote this in his journal:

Surely those who know the great passionate heart of Jehovah must deny their own loves to share in the expression of His...So what if the well-fed church in the homeland needs stirring? They have the Scriptures, Moses, and the Prophets, and a whole lot more. Their condemnation is written on their bank books and the dust on their Bible covers.

This quote won't leave me alone. It's haunting me. I pray that I can have this kind of faith. And even now, as I sit here writing this, it's almost more than I can handle. My heart stirs and my conscience begs me to answer why I spend my time doing this or a million and a half other meaningless things that manipulate my days.

I know that the need is great.

Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few." Matthew 9:37
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