Yesterday, I polished off a pint of ice cream. Strauss. Vanilla Chocolate Chip. Two hours earlier, I ate a giant chocolate chip cookie from Lemonade. I texted my husband and told him I might be depressed. He said, “You’re not depressed, you’re overtired.”
Have you ever tried to recover from a 24-hour missions trip with a baby who eats every three to four hours at night? All I can tell you is: DO NOT TRUST YOUR THOUGHTS OR FEELINGS WHEN YOU ARE IN THIS SLEEP DEPRIVED STATE. IN FACT, DO NOT EVEN SPEAK IF IT IS AT ALL POSSIBLE.
We traveled over the border Saturday to serve our neighbor, Mexico. Our partners, Fundacion Emanuel, have an infectious love for the poor and their impact is felt all over Tijuana. Choosing partners who are leading restorative movements is critical for local and global missions. Without holistic, sustainable efforts within communities and cities, we might feel good about what we’re doing, but we’re probably not meeting felt needs. Compassion is not pity. It is more than an emotion; it’s a resolve to change the situation.
Change is difficult, particularly when a problem has its roots in systemic injustice. What are we to do when we dive so deep into an issue only to discover renewal is not possible without the achievement of connectedness among entities who would prefer to remain autonomous?
Oh friends, I don’t know, but if I did, perhaps the angst in my heart would settle. For now, it remains, and I face inequity by trusting God, doing good and confronting my own tendency towards autonomy. (By the way, if I knew the answer to that question, I would run for President.)
In the spaces I occupy consistently, I keep photos of history makers.When I am weary of broken systems, Winston Churchill, Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa encourage me to focus my attention on people. When I look at their faces, I tell myself: Ash, tired has never been a good enough reason to give up on justice. Within a faulty infrastructure, everything demands our consideration. Not only is this demand impossible, but its hefty price tag is people.
99 problems, but the people ain’t one.
The cry of the oppressed and marginalized grows unbearably loud as I grow closer to Christ. The Lord has told me what is good and what He requires of me: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with Him (Micah 6:8). Justice and love call to the deepest parts of me. At some point in our lives, we must each answer the call to purpose.
When God calls, He doesn’t always give us the details. Of course, there are biblical examples of God giving details, measurements, and plans. But because of my personal experience, I am thankful there are examples of Him simply saying, “Go” without offering how or where. The Lord promises His presence to us and when He says “Go”, that must be enough. I am inspired by pioneers who start where they are, with what they have.
When Mother Teresa heard her call to the poor, she didn’t waste time in boardrooms developing strategies, or sitting with her friends pontificating about what the Bible says about loving the poor, or wasting time in meetings solving problems that aren’t really problems. She just started loving people. And twenty years into her role as an educator, she heard the call to Calcutta. And so she began again, in the streets, with those no one else cared about, the forgotten, the lonely, the dying, the lepers.
In her obedience, God did give her a strategy. Mother Teresa founded The Missionaries of Charity with twelve others and won canonical recognition for this new congregation. She convinced the city to donate a dilapidated building for her home for the dying and in the 50s and 60s, she established a leper colony, an orphanage, a nursing home, a family clinic and a string of mobile health clinics. In 1997, when she died, the Missionaries of Charity had founded 610 foundations in 123 countries on all seven continents.
A vague “Go” from God became an international opportunity to love the poor.
One of my favorite quotes from Mother Teresa is, “God has not called me to be successful; He has called me to be faithful.” If we are not careful, the indoctrination of this world dominates our thinking. In our pride, we are concerned with our success, our image, our titles, our advancement, who we’re better than and who is better than us. In our greed, we take what we want at any cost. We take more, but the hunger in our belly only increases. Greed is the opposite of love.
In our pride and greed, the enemy steals, kills and destroys the call. He feeds our ego while he steals our life. King Solomon lost his entire kingdom to greed. The Lord promised to establish his call, if he walked in integrity and obedience. But if not, the Lord would dismantle the very thing Solomon built. Why? Because God loves people. God will not allow pride and greed to sit at the center of His purpose. God is love and this is what must be at the center of all our pursuits.
In every season, I am challenged to keep it simple, to do what is right, to love mercy and to walk humbly with the Lord. And I sincerely mean I am challenged. Love is difficult when our baby boy won’t sleep, when I am beyond tired, when my heart is crushed under the weight of systems I cannot change. But love is also the reason I can begin again, the reason I can start where I am, with the person in front of me, the reason God’s “Go” makes sense against natural reason. Love defeats my pride and my greed.
Friend, what do you feel called to? What keeps you up at night? What makes you cry; what fills you with joy? I pray you experience the tangible presence of Jesus in this season of your life saying, “This beloved. This is the thing for which you were created… Now, go.”