Sunday, January 25, 2009

Another Man's Treasure

Can you imagine what it would be like to live in a cornstalk hut with a dirt floor in an area where the temperature gets down to the 40s during the winter and upper 90s in the summer? No bed, no heat, no air conditioning. Just a dirt floor with some blankets and walls that you can actually see through. During the rainy season, not only do you get wet but the floor turns to mud.

Now think of a young child that you know and love. Maybe your own child, a sibling, niece or nephew or a grandchild. Can you imagine what it would be like to live in these conditions with that beautiful child by your side? How would you cope? What would your conversations with God be like? Could you bring yourself to believe that God is good even if you had little hope of change, outside of a miracle?

It's hard to imagine what that would be like. Most of us will never experience such struggle and pain personally, so when we see pictures or hear stories it is difficult to grasp the reality of it. It is so far removed from the way we live that we cannot understand the gravity of the situation.

So you can only imagine the rush of emotions I felt as I stood in the center of this very primitive structure that a beautiful family of four once called home. Words cannot do the experience justice. I can only say that it caused me to rethink almost every aspect of my life.

Thanks to the generosity of some God loving people, this family now lives in a modest block home that keeps them sheltered from the elements. Although the parents and children share the same room, they actually now have a floor to stand on and beds to sleep in. By our standards this would still be considered "extreme poverty", but they are not only content, they are extremely grateful. They would even call this a miracle.

Try to wrap your mind around that for a moment. We have all heard the expression "one man's junk is another man's treasure". These people look at this new home as an incredible blessing from God, while many of us would feel abandoned by God if we were reduced to such living. To give some perspective here, most of us park our cars in nicer structures than the new home this family enjoys.

Yet God loves us all just the same. God loves the people of Guatemala as much as He loves Americans. God loves Rosa and Luterio and their two beautiful sons, Manuel and Oscar, as much as He loves you and your family.

So why are some so blessed while others struggle desperately to survive? Why do some of us get to choose from a variety of colors of paint, carpet and tile while others don't even have walls around them or a floor to stand on?

Maybe we have some responsibility in the matter. Maybe the fact that we sometimes spend more on one meal in a restaurant than some families earn in two months time says something. Maybe it actually has something to do with obedience. Consider the words of John the Apostle who said:

"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."
1 John 3:16-18

My hope and prayer is that this makes you as uncomfortable as I was when I stood in the middle of that cornstalk home less than a week ago. I can only pray that the people of God, including myself, would come to a deeper understanding of what it means to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Someone once said "there is too much need, we can't do it all". I would agree and simply say that God never intended for us to do it all, He just wants us to do our part. The big question is this; how will we respond to what God puts before us? Will we be obedient and help or will we be selfish and hoard?

The way I see it, God is inviting us to join Him as He answers the prayers of those in need...what an awesome can we pass that by?