Lord, I know You control the winds and seas. You control the earth and keep it on its axis and in its orbit. The recent natural disaster in Haiti zoomed our lens in on a much bigger problem in that country-poverty the likes of which we cannot fathom in our affluent culture. I hear snippets of Americans' reactions to it when they return from serving on mission trips to that tiny, struggling land. I hear their voices crack over the radio waves and the tears hang up in their throats as they recount the abject poverty they witness in a land near enough to hear its people's sobs across a narrow strip of sea. Haiti isn't on the other side of the world. Haiti isn't out of sight and out of mind. Haiti is our neighbor--our neighbor in need.
But Haiti is one small country among hundreds where human beings live day after day in conditions that we find deplorable in America. They live in structures and drink water that we call unfit for humans or animals. They eat from trash cans and rummage through garbage dumps to find morsels of half-eaten food. They suffer with diseases, pain and sorrows that could be prevented if only they had clean water that wasn't filled with human and animal excrement and demon-like microbes that kill them and their little children drop-by-poison-drop.
I turn on the faucet in my kitchen, or in one of my three bathrooms and watch the crystal clear water splash from the faucet, swirl and disappear down the drain. While I stand there wasting precious water hundreds of children die for lack of it.
I can't get these thoughts out of my head and my heart, God.
I press the start button on my dishwasher or turn the timer on my washing machine and I think of thirsty children and haggard mothers grieving because they can't give their children the water or the food they need. I think of daddies who comb through garbage cans and bring someone else's chicken bones home for their children to chew on.
Recently friends and family have been telling me and J. that we should take a cruise. We'll love the luxury of eating anything and everything we desire any time of the day or night we desire it, they say. I listen courteously and smile. But inside, the thoughts of such opulence and waste actually turns my stomach sick, God. I don't fault my friends for enjoying the fruits of their labors by splurging on a cruise. But I don't think I can.
I really don't.
Every time I throw out scraps of food I feel pangs, not of hunger, but of guilt.
You placed me in this land of plenty-in America-and I am grateful. You ordained that I would be born here and now. Thank You. But did You put me here simply so that I WON'T exist with daily hunger and thirst and disease? Or did you place me here for a bigger reason? Does the privilege into which I was born carry with it a massive responsibility?
Did you place me here and now so that I can somehow, someway provide food and water and medicine for my fellow human beings whose cries ride across the waves to me?
And how, Lord, can I send my fellow humans the Good News of Your Living Water while they physically die of thirst or of the poison that leeches from the putrid water they drink each day? How can I offer them Your Eternal Living Water when their daily water brings them death?
Show me, God. What do You want me to do about these needs that have grabbed me by the throat?
What are You telling me, Father? I sense this is one of Your Sacred Echos. I sense You are drawing me to some new challenge. What new song are You singing over me?
Stand on the shore, Little One. Look far across the sea. Listen to the winds that blow in from distant lands. The winds that carry the cries of My other little ones. You are already moved with compassion for them; I hear it ringing through your words. Now act with compassion. Dig into this little book. Dig and you'll find a well I want you to dig and pipe and pump. Keep reading. Keep praying. Keep listening. You'll recognize My direction and My plan when you hear it, when you see it.
And when you know it, then get up and do it. Don't hang back. Don't hesitate. Splurge and do it with abandon.
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