22. May 2013 · 2 comments · Categories: Faith

As I read through the numerous prayers and prayer requests concerning the tornado in Oklahoma this week, I came across a very thoughtful, and respectful statement by an atheist. He sincerely pointed out his belief that situations like this make believing in God impossible and slightly ridiculous. How could an omniscient, all-powerful God allow a tornado to hit a school and kill innocent children? How could Christians then praise that same God for saving the life of one elderly woman's dog? How could you praise the saving of the dog as an answered prayer, when the prayers of so many parents obviously went unanswered?

 

How indeed.

 

If I could talk with this man face to face, I would tell him that these are questions that tear at the hearts of many Christians when things like this happen. We have no quick answers. Many of us are not placated by the idea that tragedies like this one are “for the best” or that they fit into some grand plan. We, too, are angry and hurt and questioning. Believing in God is not easy in times like these. Very few would have the audacity to comfort one of those grieving parents with platitudes. And I would challenge my fellow believers to think twice before giving miracle status to the saving of a dog when there are lost children nearby.

 

And yet, we believe.

 

We believe that a loving God, the same God that seemingly did nothing during the tornado, is stirring the hearts of believers and non-believers alike to rush to the aid of those in peril. We believe that we love a loving and caring God, even in the face of these inexplicable disasters.

 

I cannot explain how this can be for every Christian, why each one is able to believe in the midst of these disasters. I can only explain for me.

 

I believe that God rarely steps into this world to miraculously change events. If He did so, then surely the sex trafficking of children, babies even, would not happen. For whatever reason, things have been set in motion and part of that motion includes hurt and unspeakable evil.

 

And yet, I believe.

 

As I sat and thought of that man's post and his challenging questions - an illustration came to my mind.

 

Many seeds were scattered on the ground and covered by dirt. There was no light and seemingly no hope. Then, one by one, they began to burst open and transform. They did not understand and they could not know what the result of this rupturing would be.

 

After a few weeks, a beautiful flower garden burst forth above the ground. It contained some of the most incredible and beautiful flowers ever to be seen. Although the seeds could not see what their destruction had created, the flowers knew from where they had come. They appreciated the sacrifice that the seeds had made yet could never understand.

 

I believe that we are both the seeds and the flowers. I believe that there is another phase of existence for us. I do not believe that I can understand the pain I have been through, or the pain that I have caused, or the pain that I have born witness to, in this current phase. It is not how things are. But I believe that this is but the beginning of my growth.

 

I believe, and I can't rationally explain it, that one day we will understand. I believe we will find a God who felt every ounce of sadness we have experienced. I believe that I will understand, someday.

 

But for now I am to love as many people as I come into contact with. I am to help the broken survive, I am to fight the evil, and I am to love. I am not to seek answers that cannot be found below ground, where the transformation occurs. I am to exist in faith, believe, and love with action.

 

I am on the road again. This year I have traveled every other week since January. That is a lot of traveling. I normally travel once a month, sometimes it even stretches to once every six weeks, so this has been a challenging few months. These things come in seasons for Greg and I, so we are pretty good about keeping that in perspective and just holding on for the roller coaster ride. It's been a great time professionally and we have, as a family, done a good job of spending quality time together when I am home. It really has been a great year.

That being said, I'm exhausted. For me, writing is all about pouring out, and while I've enjoyed the work we are doing together on poverty - it has been a lot of pouring out. A lot of laying bare my faults and challenges. A lot of challenging you as well. I love it. I LOVE it. But, that being said, I'm exhausted.

So this is my plan:

I'm heading home first thing in the morning. Tomorrow evening I will see my oldest little in her first graduation ceremony. Yes, we have a full cap and gown graduation ceremony tomorrow to usher Grace from pre-school to kindergarten. A lot of people kind of roll their eyes and think it's a little over the top for pre-school. I'm a fan. If there is anything to make a big deal over - what better than education? I am all for celebrating any learning milestone. A love for learning is one of the core qualities I pray for my children to have - so tomorrow evening we are going to CELEBRATE!

After that I have a week to get all caught up at work and then we will take our first family vacation. We are going to drive to Myrtle Beach. 18 hours or so in a car with a three year old and a five year old. Big smiles. We are researching all things road trip and we are going to make it fun. That which does not kill us.... we will be fine (this keeps repeating over and over in my head, 'we will be fiiiiine'). I cannot wait to show the kids the ocean, build sand castles, and make some memories!

All that to say that I won't be posting for the next couple weeks. Unless, of course, the proclamation that I won't be posting unleashes some creative tidal wave - then I'll post. But I really think I'm in dire need of re-fueling. I have to fill back up so I can start pouring back out.

I do have a lot to write about. There are three other amazing encounters in Indianapolis I want to share with you. I just finished reading another incredible book that I want to talk about. I'm working on a few ideas with my sister in law. There is a lot going on, but at the moment I'm too tired to put my thoughts in a coherent order - so rest. I am going to go rest.

I hope you are enjoying our belated, yet beloved, spring!

Much love!

I was sitting at the table having just enjoyed a wonderful brunch when she hesitantly tapped the microphone and said, "Hello.” It was during a lull between speakers, and the women were all talking and visiting at the tables; the ballroom had a dull roar of conversation going, so at first no one heard her tentative hello. But then, one by one, each table quieted and expectantly peered at the beautiful young woman with the bright red hair standing shyly behind the podium. She was beautiful - young and vivacious - obviously full of courage. How else do you explain the bright red--primary red--hair that framed her face and fell below her shoulders?

We had seen her on the stage just twenty minutes prior. She had joined a friend of hers, an alumnus of Project Home Indy (PHI) who had given a small heartfelt speech. She was there for moral support, they had explained. She stood by her friend and held her hand, but she did not speak. Now she is ready.

Without preparation or prior intention, she has commanded our attention, and now, with a few words, she will capture our hearts. This beautiful young woman speaks eloquently as she tells us what it means to have a safe home with a caring family around her. As she shares so bravely, every eye weeps and every heart swells. This is what beauty looks like.

Beauty is a woman taking the stage to express her confidence in her future--confidence that she will need, for she is also pregnant. Due in July. This fearless young lady has not yet graduated high school and is in dire need of mothering herself, but she has decided to rise to this and try to do the next right thing...each day. When PHI found her, or she found PHI, she had nowhere to go. Sometimes courage is best expressed when we say, "Help me.”

I weep at my table as she speaks because I see in her a strength. I see in her a hope. And my hope rises to meet hers. I want her to succeed, I want that more than anything, but I know the odds are not in her favor. The systems we have put in place, the biases the media has offered us time and time again, the stigma that will follow her - they are not in her favor. And yet, there is our hope - meeting.

I have hope because I sit in a room of 250 women who have come together to rally around her and three other young women living at the home. I have hope because my car is laden with books and movies that women have given from two states away. I have hope because we are tangible evidence to her that she matters, that we do care. Her life is valuable. She is a warrior, and we are part of her clan -this clan of womanhood stands beside her.

I have hope because an author of a blog brought the attention of eighty-thousand women to PHI and raised $83,000 in six hours to give another young woman a home. I have hope because we really, really can do hard things.

At my table a board member discusses the challenge of raising funds for a charity that does for so few. They can only provide space for five mothers and five babies at one time. They focus specifically on pregnant or parenting teens who are homeless. Can you imagine? Being pregnant as a teen would have its set of seemingly insurmountable odds, but to be homeless as well? Nonetheless, the fact of the matter is that PHI can only do for a few and they worry, always, about funding their work - their holy work.

This is holy isn't it? This work they do for ten people at a time. As this board member and I talk, I recall the words of Andy Stanley, a pastor and highly respected leader/author, "Do for one, what you wish you could do for many." The women here may not go wide - but they go deep. They provide not merely a safe shelter, but a home for these young ladies. They provide staffing 24/7 - so someone is there to help these new moms with a cranky baby in the middle of the night. They provide counseling to help them recognize and deal with the trauma that led them to this point in life. They allow them to get an education and employment. They teach these young girls how to be mothers when some may have never been mothered themselves.

And now, one of these brave young mothers-to-be has stepped up the microphone to say, in her own words, this is holy work. Message received.

I went to Indy to support PHI and to hear Glennon Melton speak. Glennon, as you know ‘cause I talk about it so much, is the author of Momastery. She is a shameless truth teller, and she is fierce. To meet her and hear her speak in person was so inspiring, it really was.

But those two minutes of that young mother‘ speech…that was beyond words.

She is being healed because there are woman who are building a relationship with her. She has hope because she has healthy relationships.

Do you see? No organization can do this for every person in need. No government can do this.

But we can.

I am creating a list of organizations that are going deep - here in Missouri or wherever they may be found. I am also working with my beautiful sister-in-law on something. Something that will make a difference in the lives of those who struggle in poverty.

In the meantime, I encourage you to forge relationships whenever you identify poverty—be it of spirit, mind or money. Find one person that you will invest in, and begin.

Do for one, what you wish you could do for many.

 

 

 

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