I sat in a room tonight with 1000+ high school students and heard the story of a fellow leader. A beautiful woman who at 16 was a high school dropout, homeless, and with a history of abuse and alone. It was the cycle of poverty at its cruelest. She was then asked what would have happened if someone had come alongside her at 16 (or earlier) and offered her love and asked nothing in return? What would have happened if she had been loved instead of used? Cared for instead of taken advantage of? Looked after instead of constantly having to look over her shoulder?
With tears in her eyes she said. “Life, it would have meant life.”
And I thought didn’t he just describe the call of a Christian?
You see all too often I think we blame other people’s hardships on the cycle of poverty, pain, or poor choices. We brush away our call to step into other peoples horrific stories as nothing more than a flip chart on a government website.
When I think about my upbringing I think of my Santa Claus Christmases, my family vacations, and my daddy daughter dates. I think of prom dresses and the ability to feel secure and I wonder why I never saw the hurting around me. I wonder why I never came face to face with the abused and saw the incredibly opportunity I had to help? What I failed to see was that while the cycle of poverty might be hard to break the cycle of entitlement is iron clad. I never saw the hurting because I never had to. I grew up believing (and not because I was taught this) I was just entitled to certain things other only dreamed of. I grew up believing that the only person I had to worry about was myself. I relished in success and blamed others for my failure. At my core I just expected life to be good to me.
Then I got to know Jesus and the hurting around me started to collide with what I said I believed. I saw why my family did certain things like help others, befriend the friendless, and give generously. All the sudden the people I most greatly respected didn’t have things they had a heart posture for others. All of the sudden I didn’t want a life headed for comfort I wanted a life headed for Jesus. I wanted to be made a fool if only to be told by my savior one day, well done.
However the cycle is hard to break. When we had kids suddenly I wanted to keep the cycle going. I wanted to pass down the sheer coincidence I was handed at birth. I wanted my kids to never hurt but when I started having to tell my two year old about Jesus I realized she wouldn’t buy into a savior that kept her comfortable. Why send a blameless man to die on a cross if only to rescue a few? I realized that the best conversation I could have would be a faith lived out and not at the sacrifice of my responsibilities but with the prayer that God would live in my home.
I don’t want God to be the dormant cross hanging on my wall, I want to feel his breath on my family like you feel a sea breeze. I want him to change us. Sure I want good things for my kids but what I really want is a life full of purpose not things, a life filled with the hurting colliding with the blessed, and a life where they hear from God and they just say yes because faith without deeds is dead and I’m not ready to bury mine just yet.