It was January 2010, and a massive earthquake had just shattered the streets and lives of Haiti. And while the world watched the struggling country’s tragedy unfold, an internal struggle was going on inside of me.
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” ~ Luke 16:10
I had been praying for God to change me.
Ever feel like you’re in a slump, and you’re not even sure why? That was me. Spiritually, emotionally, even physically.
But by His grace, God used the events in Haiti to catch my attention that day. From my journal:
I can’t do one thing throughout the day without the pictures
of devastation flooding my mind.
I think of the dark, sad eyes of rubble-covered, filthy orphans
when I wipe my baby’s face.
I scrape the extra food off of her highchair and think of their hunger.
I cringe at a paper cut and then remember their wounds. Their pain.
I climb into my comfortable bed and pray for them to be able to sleep,
somehow, under the stars.
I get overwhelmed with the clutter of toys, while they yearn for the basic necessities of life.
I long for a moment of peace in the midst of a chaotic full house,
and think of those who long to have their loved ones back.
My mind went back to 1995, when I stood on those dirt roads, handing out pencils and gum and hope to hungry, hurting children. When life was much simpler and mercy seemed to come more quickly for me. My mind wasn’t cluttered with the things of this world as much. At least not that week of Spring Break, when I got to witness for the first time what life – and poverty – was like outside of my small college world.
While I was working my tail off to avoid taking out student loans, people were starving to death in that small little village in Haiti.
A good friend named Tyler (who would later become my husband) was on that trip too. We sat on the steps outside our apartment building together each night, listening to the Voodoo chants of the neighboring village. We sat in pure darkness; no electricity since the generators had already shut down for the night. He would play guitar. We would sing a little, then pray a little. And wonder how a place – a people – that was so lost, could ever find God.
And now, all these years later, I’m thankful that it’s God who does the finding.
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea. Though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging…” ~ from Psalm 46
Not that the crisis was about me, but God was doing a work in me because of it. He answered my prayers and my pleading for His Word to come alive to me in a fresh, new way. I wanted to long for it like I did on those Haitian steps almost eighteen years ago. Overwhelmed with grief and the guilt of my selfishness, I sat on my bathroom floor during one nap time with tears streaming down my face, soaking up the Psalms as I read them aloud. God met me there. And His Word did come alive.
It had been too long.
When had I become so discontent in all of God’s provision for me? When did I stop managing well all that God had entrusted to my care?
Something had to change.
A few nights later, I sat on my bed, grabbed hands and formed a circle with my husband and three boys, and one by one, we lifted up the people of Haiti to the One who is our “ever-present help.” It was the first of many nights that we began consistently, passionately praying again for someone – something - other than ourselves. And it felt good. Really good. A baby step to be sure, but a freeing one out of our self-absorbancy and pride.
I watched a few days later as my boys – all on their own – raided their Ziploc bags full of lost-teeth-and-birthday-money. They marked separate tithe envelopes “for Haiti,” and stuffed in their money, in a most unorganized way. Later we sat and looked at pictures of Haiti online, and my oldest, convicted and full of compassion, brought down another dollar. Their nineteen dollars seemed so minuscule, but for the work it did in their hearts? Priceless.
I remember thinking, “I don’t want to forget all of this a week from now.” And I still pray against forgetting every.single.day. When it’s clear that it’s not about me and I’ve had little sleep and my patience is not what it should be.
I want to live changed, so that I can live a life that’s faithful.
He changes lives, you know. The very God who created the universe. Who allows things that we don’t understand to fulfill His plan and purpose. And He’ll meet you where you are. Even if it’s a bathroom floor, or a pit that you think you’ll never get out of. If you’ll let Him.
Oh to be changed, so that we will be faithful in little, so that we can be faithful in much.
Jesus, help me not to forget…
At His feet,