I have a closet.
A big closet.
It holds clothes on high hung racks with more space below. Clothes I hardly wear anymore and those frilly things I wore once and don’t want to wear again. Shelves that hold more jeans I know what to do with and see-through boxes with stuff I have lost track of.
A man died across the world at the hands of barbarians.
And my closet is too big and this stuff could clothe a village of women.
My heart aches for the parents who had their love stolen by evil. By the very worst of humanity.
And my kitchen is exploding with utensils that make cutting easier and smoother.
And the knife they used? It wasn’t so big. Not what you would imagine necessary to take a life, but then the point wasn’t the taking but the suffering, the agony of it.
And I hope his parents know there was bravery written in the creases of his worn face. That he did not give them the satisfaction of crying out. He didn’t add to the tears that will be shed for him.
There are Bibles lined up on a shelf. One for each person whose heart beats in this home. Five more than most need or can even afford. Five extra that could sustain an underground church for one more desperate yet joyful generation of believers. The Word is smuggled there, the pages worn from grateful and thirsty fingers. Some of ours have hardly been turned enough to cause a wrinkle because it’s easier to wipe our finger across a screen.
We seem to have double of everything except for gratefulness.
A town is on fire. Words are flung around like they’re supposed to mean something in the face of anger and chaos and hurt and all they’re doing is feeding a fire that is dying to burn out of control.
I took the kids to get donuts this morning. Food that can be ordered from the comfort of our car, with a card that keeps track of the money. We stuffed ourselves with frosted circles because a treat for us is just more of what we have every day.
Access to excess.
Over a billion people live on less than one dollar a day. Less than one donut.
And my heart aches for all of it.
For the child who will die from malnutrition tomorrow as we throw away a blemished apple.
For the uncle that left his niece on a mountain because she was dying and the helicopter may not come again.
For a society that considers poverty having to take the bus and work two jobs.
For the mother who will walk until her feet have cracked and bled just to bring home a bucket of clean water.
For the rack that holds shoes for every occasion and type of weather.
For the comfort we walk in daily while much of the world longs for peace.
It’s time for us to clean house. To recognize the stark difference between needs and wants. To teach our children that it’s not about accumulating.
It’s about giving but not the kind of giving that levels the playing field.
The kind of giving that hurts the heart because you wish it could be more. The kind of giving that isn’t mandated for the greater good but is lavished because of an eternal promise hung on a Cross at Calvary.
The world’s hurts might never go away. And this ache for the suffering, I think, will always be present. But the aching can be a gift that spurs us to action; the motivation we need to empty closets and purses because the drive thru can wait if it means giving hope to a child in Kenya or El Salvador or Chicago.
We only get one life and I am grateful that my life is here, in a country built on a foundation of freedom when I could have been born an orphan in Sierra Leone or a child-bride in Afghanistan. I could very easily have been delivered into the slums of India or the oppression of North Korea.
But I wasn’t.
My life was created in a country that provides opportunities some will only dream of so now I wonder how He can use me. How He will use me in the face of evil and oppression and heartache.
Where do we fit in when the world weeps?
How do we live in the midst of excess and still honor the reality that ours is a very precious gift?
My heart aches for our broken and wounded world. For the withholding because it all seems too big to fix and too overwhelming to fit in between our busyness. And there is no denying our own struggles. We can’t ignore the real hurt here that cries out for compassion. So where do we go?
Looking up. Praying up. Crying up every day until healing begins or we’ve been taken Home.
(*image courtesy of mashable.com)