Sep 11 2008

Why Am I Here?

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.

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  1. Lindy
    Sep 11, 2008
    at 5:26 am

    Meredith,

    Thanks so very much for allowing us to experience, through your awesome writing, this very special lunchtime! (We sponsor an orphan boy in Tanzania, and he is a joy to our hearts.)

  2. Sep 11, 2008
    at 8:41 am

    Thank you so much for this excellent post! Wish I had been there! You are so right — and I say this all the time in my posts, when I speak in churches for Compassion and when I leave comments — we need the poor as much as they need us! We need their joy, contentment and prayers; we need to be freed of our greed, materialism and selfishness! I picked up this concept originally from Wess Stafford’s book — Too Small to Ignore — it was my favorite part of his book [page 107]:

    “When the wealthy and the poor get together, each ends up meeting the desperate needs of the other. Too often Satan achieves his wicked agenda by keeping them apart–geographically and philosophically. The result is that one tends to die in need, the other in greed. But when Jesus brings us together, the genuine needs of both are mysteriously and wonderfully satisfied. In God’s amazing economy, the rich and poor need each other, the common message being, ‘Enough really is…enough!’”

    It’s true! It’s true! As soon as a person discovers (and experiences) this great truth — they are on their way to a healthy, fruitful and satisfying walk with the Lord. We learn so much from our sponsored children [as well as from our own children, and from country staff & Advocates here and abroad), and it’s exactly as God intended it to be–in fact, it’s necessary.

    My job as a Child Advocate in the Advocate’s Network is to do all I can to tear down those walls that separate us — by revealing and informing people of the needs, providing the solution (offering a child packet) and encouraging the writing of letters between sponsor and child.

  3. Sep 11, 2008
    at 9:37 am

    Meredith, I almost jumped off my chair, when I saw Tanzania mentioned! I, too, sponsor a child there, and I immediately jumped to, “Was Tausi there??”

    I assume (I hope!!) I would have been told if she were coming to Colorado, and I would have moved heaven and earth to meet her. Sigh.

    Anyway…I love your description of their worship. I have seen clips of African children worshipping (probably we all have). I always envision my girls that way, as they sing, especially when we sing, in church, “It’s the song of the redeemed / Rising from the African plain….”

    I wish I had been in that restaurant with you. But even more, I need to internalize the insights you shared at a much deeper level than I have, up to now.

  4. Sep 11, 2008
    at 8:55 pm

    I loved this Meredith. So true.

  5. Diantha
    Sep 12, 2008
    at 6:09 am

    Real nice to read this it made me realize how inportant it is to have faith in our Lord .

  6. Sep 12, 2008
    at 6:10 am

    Wow! That is great…I’m wish I could have heard them sing!

  7. Sep 12, 2008
    at 3:36 pm

    I needed to read that today, thank you so much for sharing!

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