Thursday, October 25, 2012
[repost from after my first trip to Ethiopia, Africa in 2011.]
I did not know my eyes could see that way. They burned and throbbed in the seeing for real. I blinked hard at the pain of having the scales fall away and the view that was before me. My mind swirled with the statistics. Statistics that I have been clinging to for nine months, statistics propelling me forward inching me closer and closer to Ethiopia. Flesh and blood and hallow eyes, and empty hands reaching through the van windows desperate for food. They both destroyed and gave life to all of the numbers bouncing in my head.
When did we in America - when did I replace living, breathing children, and people with numbers? Or did we never replace them, were they always figures to us? Is that how we manage to wash our dishes, kiss our children's foreheads, drive to the grocery store without a thought for the least of these? It must be what I did.
It took ten days of having my heart trampled and bruised from witnessing things that keep me up at night and unable to know when and how to tell others what I saw with my new eyes. It took ten days of finally understanding the least of these, and knowing that they are the most valuable in the eyes of the One who gave His life for them. It took ten days of agony as my eyes were pried open to the horror and the beauty mingled in human form not arbitrary numbers.
And now, now I am wondering how to be here. How do I tidy and pretty my home when I now know that I saw children living in trash heaps, surviving on sidewalks parallel dirty, busy roads? How do I tuck my children into bed at night remembering the beautiful faces of the children in the orphanages who sleep two to a bed, bunked in a tiny, cold room - locked in until morning. There is no Dad , no Mom to tuck them in, not even an adult in the room to calm a nightmare. They were just numbers to me before I met them, and now I lay down at night on my pillow and I hear their cries of terror, their pleas for love and something so simple as family. I remember their hurts.
What am I doing here? What am I doing for the least of these?
I remember the little boy in the denim jacket. The way he looked at me as I handed him some treats from my bag. His smile warming me as he clutched the treasures. Those eyes locked mine, and through the language barrier, I knew what they begged.
Are you the one I have been waiting for? Are you the one to end this nightmare and make me a son once again?
And now I live with the knowing that I am not the one - at least not for him. I was chosen for other boys. But the images of he and his friends are sewn into my heart, my mind. I won't forget what I saw, what I know. I promised them that I would tell others, that I would advocate for them. I don't know how though. I fall short. I cannot let these little souls be lost in the overwhelming numbers, and yet I am not the One who opens the eyes and softens the heart.
Perhaps that is one of the hardest lessons I have yet to learn - figuring out what to do with the knowing.
Because one day I will stand before Jesus....
I doubt He will ask me how many times I dusted my home, or if my children were dressed in GAP, or even did I homeschool?
He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:33-40
No, I can't save the world, but I can clothe, feed, and give a home to some and tell them of the One who came to save the world. Because when I looked statistics in the eye, all of my excuses escaped.