In the days after, my throat about seals off.
On the edge of the bed in the dark before morning, all I can do is is sit at the edge of the world and close my eyes, wince through every hard searing.
It hurts and it doesn’t matter because there’s no getting around it — you do have to figure a way out to swallow the world down.
They had said this would happen — that moving from Haiti’s furnace heat and sweat-sticking t-shirts, into air-conditioned goosebump cold, that we could get sick.
But is this sick or the truest well and why should we swallow the world down without pain? It’s Haiti’s furnace heat that’s gotten right into me, that’s burning up my throat, that’s searing all my words, that’s making my words still and know that He is God.
I don’t know how many containers of raspberries I’ve eaten.
That I’ve found in the back of the fridge and placed one at a time, these fresh, cool jewels, right on the tongue — then swallowed them down, cold extinguishing for everything aflame inside. When I find out at 4:32 am on Thursday that there are no more berries in the fridge, I wonder if the point is that I should stop trying to extinguish anything. Who isn’t a dead man unless there is fire in his bones?
Who isn’t nothing but a skeleton in the valley of the dry bones — unless they actually pull some skin onto the Word and let suffering make your valleys into sheltered places to light a match and see the face of God.
Who really has faith in their heart if they don’t have fire in their bones?
And anyone who has His fire in their bones isn’t really safe. Open Flames are always dangerous.
At 4:47 am, I grab a pen and try to make a plan.
Because people with fire in their bones might ignite change:
This is doing something — the first thing.
Prayer isn’t a substitute for action — prayer is the source of action. Pick a country to pray for, a person, a people group — make it a habit of your day to wear compassion and justice and prayer.
2. Make it your goal to tithe 10%
The Average American? Gives 3.2% of their income. And if every committed Christian in America tithed 10% from whatever their income is — we’d give $85 billion dollars a year. And the United Nations states the world only needs $30 billion dollars a year to end world hunger.
3. Give Wisely
When giving, Tim Keller says, the most effect way to make to change is to support:
Straight Relief = immediate aid
Societal Development= entrepreneurial support, business, educational, health and infrastructure development.
Soul Reform = evangelism and discipleship.
“There is no better way for Christians to lay a foundation for evangelism than doing justice,” write Keller. “On paper we may ask, ‘Should Christians do evangelism or social justice?’ But in real life, these things go together,” offers Keller.
Do whatever it takes to stay with the poor: around the corner, across town, around the world. Make it your lifestyle to live face to face with the needy on a regular basis, because this is a way to stay face to face with Christ. Stock shelves at a food bank, serve at a soup kitchen, visit a nursing home, be a Big Brother or Sister, read mission blogs, become an advocate, write a child, visit a prison, make friends with one person who is in dire straits.
Give up one thing (coffee? cable? take-out?) and reach for a child!
Does sponsoring a child make any REAL difference?
Two researchers and I recently carried out a study (sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development) on the long-term impacts of Compassion International’s child sponsorship program.
The study, gathering data from over 10,000 individuals in six countries, found substantial impact on adult life outcomes for children who were sponsored through Compassion’s program during the 1980s and ’90s. We statistically compared formerly sponsored children to older siblings who were too old for sponsorship when the program started in their village.
In adulthood, formerly sponsored children were far more likely to complete secondary school and had a much higher chance of having a white-collar job. They married and had children later in life, were more likely to be church and community leaders, were less likely to live in a home with a dirt floor and more likely to live in a home with electricity.
Figure out how you, even as extended family or with friends or with your children, might sponsor one child.
6. Buy Wisely
Use your purchasing power to help the poor: buy your clothes only from companies that benefit those making the clothes, improving their lives. Be like Job and wear justice.
Middle of July is the perfect time to consider how your Christmas could radically, really change the world. Isn’t that why Christ came? And who’s birthday is it anyways and Who do we really want to give to? When Your Christmas gets Radical…
8. When You gave a Glass of Water…
One million children die from drinking unclean water each year. That’s 114 children before the next hour is up — just because they drank dirty water. And for the cost of dinner out or a nice birthday present — just $55.00 — you could give 68 people clean drinking water for their entire lives.
Let everyone know today: Your new standard wish-list for your birthday: Clean drinking water. And then bake yourself a cake and smile big when you blow the candles out — because nothing can extinguish that fire in your bones!
9. Net Wisely
Count to 45. A child just died of malaria. “Malaria is a leading killer of children in developing countries, accounting for nearly one in five deaths of children under age 5 in sub-Saharan Africa.” But for $12? You can provide a net that can save a life. How long might it take to save up $12 to donate?
10. Do Something
Don’t let anything keep you from doing just one thing today — because you just don’t think it’s a big enough thing.
Anything is better than nothing and if everyone does something — we’re a lot closer to getting everything done.
I had read it in the days after I came home from Haiti — read it when my throat hurt and I couldn’t seem to find my voice. And I had fallen asleep and dreamed it — seen it as clear a movie reel running on the screen of my life:
There’s all these women, all of us, sitting around a pond on a Sunday afternoon, and we’re eating egg salad and sipping lemonade and talking about our kids and grace and walking with Christ and wiggling our bare toes in the sun.
And then someone heard it — the flailing splashes, the screaming. Someone stands and points — 10 small toddlers have fallen into the pond!
The children are drowning — children with the faces of our children.
The pond might be cold, we might get our skirts wet — even dirty — but should anything keep us from rescuing a child? If, for the cost of a new skirt — we could save a child — shouldn’t we?
There is no hesitation — there is running and there is reaching out and there are the hands and feet of Christ in this world.
And we each save one gloriously exquisite child— each with the face of our child. But up on the grass? There are some women who can’t wade right now — who can’t get dirty today.
And there’s a child right beside you drowning — with your face. Who says they’ve done enough?
Who says someone else should now do something?
And then I see all these arms —
how they reach out and save. one. more. child.
And on the edge of the bed in the dark before morning — I wake up and my throat is scorching sore and it’s not strep throat — but struck throat.
Struck by grace and poverty and beauty and the gift of Christ who carves away all these things to make a life into a gift to be given back.
Who burns all this dross away.
You don’t look into the lives of the poor and plead the 5th amendment — your life is always your answer.
And with this sore throat, I need no words…
just hands and feet and a heart to act.
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