What have you got to make sure you really know before you step out into the whole wide world?
Maybe you just keep stepping into the gloriously messy world and God makes it clearer than you’d ever hoped?
I fly to Haiti with Compassion, with you, our oldest son on the brink of stepping out from under his mother’s wing and I stand beside you.
I stand beside those shoulders of yours broadening into a man’s on that Haitian front porch after the rain and you prayed in this deepening baritone for that mother and her five daughters.
A girl about 7 years old leaned in the doorframe of that house without a stitch of clothes on her.
A rooster scratched in the dirt.
The mother said it so softly we could hardly hear her, that she had no work, that she had nothing.
Just five daughters and this quavering voice and you standing on her front step praying hope in Christ over her.
Do you know how many prayers a mother prays over a son, praying he’ll someday pray?
I have simply prayed one thing for you and it is not as it seems: that you will be truly happy.
Because there is no true happiness apart from holiness, and there is no true holiness apart from knowing what it means to suffer unhappiness. And there is no knowing how to suffer unhappiness apart from God.
You saw that today, saw it in the woman’s eyes on a front porch in Haiti, rain splattering off edge of that rusting tin roof. I simply pray you will not be apart from God. I don’t say this cheaply: It’s through suffering unhappiness that God may beckon you into deeper happiness in Him. Don’t be afraid.
Because the thing is: I don’t want you to get all A’s in life. I want you to get life. I want you to get God. A.W. Tozer said that you can have as much of God as you want.
It’s wild to think about that: How much of God do you really want? How happy do you really want to be? Why would you avoid Him and all your joy — when you could hunger for Him and have as much happiness as you want?
What I am trying to tell you is that no matter where you end up, where the road leads: You can have as much God as you want. As much joy in Him as you want. The real believers relentlessly believe that. The world or circumstances will try to dupe you differently– but it’s a law as irrefutable as gravity itself: no matter what — as much God as you want.
Is there anything else worth wanting or having?
Do you know what the men who fathered those five daughters but abandoned their mother and all – do you know what they didn’t know? It’s what every man has to know before he goes out into the world so he knows how to stay:
Love isn’t a feeling but a tying. The practical translation of “I Love You” is “I am Tied to You” — no matter what breaks loose. Love never gives up but lays itself down. Do this — this is the way of God.
All you have here is one lifetime and time. is. your. life. When you spend time with someone, what you are freely giving away is your life. Do this — this is the way of God. But when you spend time with screens, what you are freely giving away might be your very soul. Isn’t this the way of insanity? Anything stealing your time, it’s stealing your life.
And that pressure you feel? To fit some mold, that very real pressure that’s trying to form you into the image of this crazy, trendy world? Resist it and write this on your heart:
What will keep you from doing much good — is caring too much what others think.
This isn’t only a phenomenon of adolescence. This can be the foolishness of adults.
What would the world look like if Christians didn’t care about keeping up with the Joneses but about keeping company with Christ?
Maybe we’d keep our souls from insecurity and our minds from insanity?
Maybe we could be brave enough to be different, have less and be more, and change the world?
Timothy Keller said it: “There is a direct relationship between a person’s grasp and experience of God’s grace, and his or her heart for justice and the poor.”
That’s what I want you to know: all is grace. Because when you have experienced great grace in Christ, it leads you toward greater justice for all.
It comes down to who do you want to be, what you want to be known for. How many times on this trip have you been asked what your future plans are and you talk of our Lord willing and university the year after this and a degree in economics or business and maybe someday that’ll be you, introducing yourself as a financial consultant.
And I think of God, how many times our God introduces Himself like this, how God wants to really be known in this world for this,
“The Lord your God… defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the immigrant, giving him food and clothing.” Deuteronomy 10:17-18
This is how our God is known from all the other gods, for standing with the weak. Who will be strong enough to do this? Will you be known what our God is known for and love who God loves and give the poor like God gives? The greatest steps out into the world never step away from the poor.
The only goods worth really having is the moral good from giving away.
When you stood with the mother and her girls, did you see it — while your head was still bowed, after you’d prayed for God to bless a penniless woman living in a loaned house with five daughters after the lust of men had all run out, after you had said your Amen and meant it and believed the angels cheered – did you see what was etched into the step under your feet?
Someone had written it when the concrete step had been wet back in September of 1993 and this is all that will ever matter:
Si Dieu est…
“If God is for us than who can be against us?” Romans 8:31
Who needs a message in the sky?
When it all comes down to what is written right there at your feet.
Right there in a one-room shanty porch in Haiti, etched into your begging prayers and you can have nothing materially and you can have everything eternally because what can stand against you if God stands for you?
It’s written into your every step in this world.
Don’t be afraid.
When you turn on the step, turn on the edge, and the mother smiles her thanks and you smile hope —
you step off the step and into that certain grace dripping down on us all.