In a little less than a day, I will be in a plane to Haiti, a little country that sits only 300 miles off our coastline, but is a world away. Every time I read the story of the rich man and Lazarus in the Bible, I can’t help but think of America as the “rich man” and Haiti as our “Lazarus” But I’m wandering from what has really been on my heart and mind the last couple days.
I volunteered to go as the team leader, and the last few weeks I’ve been wondering what I got myself into. I forgot all the paperwork and picky details that go into bringing a group of people to a foreign country. And I’ve found myself thinking “Never again!” “I’m not doing this again.” But when I really think about it in light of the faith I profess, I realized that being this busy preparing in the hopes of bringing some love, hope, joy, and food to children in need is something that matters more in light of eternity. If I spent my days the way “I” really feel like most of the time, I’d end up wasting most of my time on temporary, narrow things. And honestly, yes, I’m a whiner, because this prep thing is so not really much of a sacrifice…
Why does this matter to me? Not because I need to earn my way to heaven, or try to make sure my “good” deeds somehow outweigh my “bad” ones, but because Jesus said those who followed him would “do greater deeds” (John 14:12) than even he himself did. If you read what Jesus did – feeding the 5000, healing the lame, blind, and sick, and even raising the dead, you might wonder (as his listeners did) how, exactly, that is possible. It’s possible because Jesus was limited to one time and place in his time on earth. But as he knew, his followers would number in the thousands and come from all walks of life, from all over the world.
The problem is, as anyone can see, many of us fall far short of living up to what we should be doing. In fact, too many people have a bad taste in their mouths from interactions with those who call themselves Christians. I don’t have a great thought or solution, only that yes, we who profess to follow Christ’s example should make sure we really are…(hint – it involves, in his own words “denying self and taking up a cross” (Luke 9:23) hmm, not such an easy thing). But at the same time, we are still human, and prone to fail many times over. That’s where the mystery of grace comes in. It doesn’t give me license to live however I want, but it covers me each time I make a mistake and confess it to him.
That is why this time next week will find me, Lord willing, with sweat pooling down my back, but a smile on my face, with my arm around a child who has suffered more in their short life than I can even imagine. And loving (almost) every minute of it!