As you may have read recently, the Global Leadership Forum has been in progress all week and all the “big-wigs” are in town talking about . . . stuff. I don’t actually know what they are talking about because I wasn’t invited. But I’m pretty sure that my lunch on Tuesday was better than any silly forum 🙂
When I walked into the New Delhi Café (get it?), I was startled to see most of our tables occupied by little boys and girls . . . FROM AFRICA! A group of about ten kids, roughly eight to twelve years old, from Tanzania were all sitting down having lunch and drinking Cokes. They were bright-eyed, big smiled, beautiful kids.
As I filed in with many others for what we thought would be a normal lunch, I overheard someone say that they were all Compassion sponsored children.
“What an awesome reminder,” I thought to myself. “I’m working for them, their friends, and families.” Despite the fact that they were all well and healthy, I still found myself pitying them because they had to be “sponsored.”
But then, all of the sudden, they stood up, gathered together, started swaying in unison . . . and started singing.
I have never heard anything like it. Besides being on perfect key, they sang in harmony with one another. I can’t begin to tell you just how moving it was to listen to them to sing praises to the Lord. More powerful than their voices, though, were their hearts behind it.
As they sang and swayed, they all either had their eyes closed or their eyes wide open and hands raised to heaven. I never knew the power of a child’s faith until that moment.
And yet these are not just any children.
They are from parts of the world and circumstances that, from my perspective, would hardly move me to recognize and respond to God. The beauty and conviction for me lay in the fact their faith was not based upon their homeland or family circumstance.
Their faith and reason for worship was based on the condition and circumstance of their heart. I then realized it was not them who were in need or pity, but me.
While I appear healthy, I am actually quite diseased. I have the disease of greed, materialism, and — worst of all — selfishness. Things that have manifested themselves and festered not from need but overabundance. At some point, I don’t recall when, those thingsthat which were provisional blessings from the Lord stopped being blessings and became entitlements, in my mind.
As I sat listening to the kids singing “We worship you Lord, for you are good,” my heart broke. They sing those words because they know His goodness and faithfulness in another way: the provision they receive is unknown day to day, but still it comes.
Their gratitude stems from hearts that do not expect what they receive; rather, they are grateful because they know they can not provide for themselves, and so in the midst of their dependence, they are humbled. But they are not ashamed.
On the other side of the world lies another mindset completely.
In stark contrast, I find myself thinking and feeling as though I deserve all that I have. And the magnitude of my gratitude is dependent on how productive I am at work or how good my service was at the restaurant of my choice.
The bigger issue is the state of our hearts (I’m taking the liberty of speaking for all us, hope you don’t mind). Instead of rejoicing in our inability to provide for ourselves in the way that our souls need, we are afraid to be dependent on anyone, so we choose to be dependent on things. We are afraid to ask for help and receive assistance. In our culture, the only glory is in being self-sustaining.
Isn’t it ironic that even when we are successful in this, we still feel like failures?
As the kids continued singing, I found myself wishing I was more like them. Free from the world but enslaved to Christ.