Old & New
A few years ago, I participated in an eleven month long mission trip called The World Race. All the participants were encouraged to blog through the months and ministries. That’s when, I believe, the Lord began to water the seed of writing He’d planted within me long ago. But, I’ve struggled with writing since returning from the Race (if you read any of my recent posts, you’ll see that).
Last weekend, though, I found myself at the She Speaks conference surrounded by all kinds of women, from all kinds of places but all with the same dream: to write or to speak what the Lord has placed on their hearts. I left feeling encouraged and a bit convicted to keep pressing in, keep fighting for and keep doing this writing thing. And I decided to read some of those old Race posts again. I’ve done this a handful of times in the five years since returning from the field. And each time I do, each time I read those old posts, the stirring to write wells up again.
So a thought began to develop within me. What if I used those old posts to help me write new ones? Then, when Suzie Eller listed her topic for this week’s #livefreeThursday linkup, my heart jumped. I knew I wanted to participate. And I knew what old post I would use….
Old: I Died for Them…
It smells like fire.
It would almost be a pleasant smell if it weren’t for the distinct stench of decayed food, wet paper and rotten liquid all wrapped up in the burning smoke. We walk along a narrow road.
On our left, there are homes.
On our right, lies the city’s garbage.
Tons of it.
There are flies everywhere and vulture-like birds bounce through the mounds of trash picking whatever they can find to eat out of the muck. The heat on my face intensifies as I look to my right to see fire burning on top of the trash.
Ashes rain down from above.
And not ten feet away, a young boy wearing a tattered pair of underwear and a tank top, probably four or five years of age, plays with his sister. Their mother looks on from the hut along the road.
I cannot process anything I am seeing. My mind is cloudy like the smoke filled sky around me. My breathing is interrupted periodically by that smoke catching in my throat, causing me to cough. These people LIVE here! This is their life. My little group of six Americans stop at the end of the road and look back. Where do we even start, Lord? What can we do? We don’t speak Spanish and we can’t fix this.
His voice comes soft, but clear: “I did not die for this. I died for them.”
We decide to head back along the road and see if anyone would be open to us praying for them. We find a few along the way and, through broken Spanish and (hopefully) warm gestures, we successfully pray – primarily in English – for them. They all seem grateful, but, unfortunately, I feel as if we aren’t really making a difference.
My group of six eventually meets back up with the other seven doing ministry that day in the middle of the road. They have a rope that we used the day before at the orphanage for limbo and jump rope. Before long, we have attracted the attention of several of the children living in the area. And, after some coaxing and modeling, we manage to get a handful of them in on the action. In the meantime, a couple of other teammates have begun to help a man search for plastic bottles, containers, whatever that can be re-sold (via recycling) in the piles of rubbish that lie beneath him. His two young children had been helping while watching the other kids jump.
As I sit here processing through all of this, I can’t help but think about how that man (unknowingly, perhaps) portrays Jesus each day to his children as he searches through all of the rubbish to find the jewels that can be redeemed; redemption due to the choosing of one who sees a quality worth restoring. We saw all kinds of stuff in that trash – some of it not so bad, some of it downright nasty – but, none of it was gross enough to keep us from reaching through to grab the just visible piece of plastic, pull it out and toss it into the bag to be recycled.
New: Wrecked by Redemption
How often do we feel like a piece of that plastic?
Left to rot.
In the middle of a bunch of ick.
It’s easy to stay there. In that place. Feeling those feelings.
[pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”]But, friend, you and I are worth so much more than we feel.[/pullquote] But, friend, you and I are worth so much more than we feel. There is a Redeemer who is searching for us, finding us and choosing us because He sees the value, the worth, the beauty that is within us.
That truth jolted my heart into a wild sensation of humble gratitude and bold proclamation on that day and on many of the days that have come afterwards. It wrecked me. In a most beautiful and visceral way.
…but I forget it. Easily and often.
If so, will you pray with me? Will you pray with me to remember Whose we are? Will you pray with me to always trust that He sees more than we feel? To cling to the truth that we are worth more than we can really comprehend?
Because we have been redeemed.
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Pet. 2:9 (emphasis mine)