Live It and Give It! (Zug, Switzerland)- for February 2010
This is my second re-write of what your about to read below. As a preface, those that know me, I’m NOT a doom and gloom kind of guy- that’s done all too well by the news and media today in “selling” stories that need statistics and numbers to back them up. As I mentioned in my last writing, this year I’m simply trying to look deeper into the stories of individual people, especially the ones that I find sitting in front of me, wherever that might be. Sometimes, it’s a continuation of that meeting even if from long ago….their story is still being written, just like yours and mine.
So often today, we hear or read or watch the news regarding stories, often with massive statistics and numbers. Stories of war ravaged nations, stories of natural catastrophes, stories of helpful entities and stories of billions and billions of currencies. The numbers can sometimes be so large that we can’t grasp the point. In one city on one side of the planet 60 die in a bombing at a mosque during prayer, but that story is lost to more than 100,000 dead from a catastrophe on the other side of the planet. We hear about children dying every few seconds somewhere on the planet due to starvation or lack of water, numbering hundreds of thousands in months and/or millions in a year. Our hearts get grabbed and we so want to help or do something significant, but feel so small and inadequate. The truth is that many are being helped in many ways by various churches or denominations (often yours or mine in ways you may not realize), humanity organizations, NGO’s (non governmental organization), governments, politicians, rock stars, movies stars and even billionaires like Bill Gates. The truth is there are still even more not getting help.
GRASPING THE POINT: Behind the massive statistics and numbers is “a story” (singular) of “an individual” who has “a name”. One has to go deeper to the individual story behind the larger stories, still never capable to ever really grasp the big story (although God is big enough and does that!) I believe the reality is we too often miss the point of one single person who has a name because we’re overloaded with the data, facts, figures and numbers and missed the individual face behind it…..unless we know that face or that name personally, or connected personally (and I’m definitely not talking Facebook here). The paragraph above has non specific stories but hypothetically looking deeper, we read right over the story of an Islamic mother who’s life will never be the same after burying her son tomorrow who was the Islamic prayer leader killed in the bombing by one of his own. There’s 59 other mothers mourning over their lost one too, not just for the guy leading the prayer. There is a hungry man desperately trying to feed his family today, but carrying the loss that it was to late for his 3rd born son who didn’t make it past yesterday. This man has a name, and he definitely knows the name of his children, especially the name of his 3rd born in which he wrote it on the makeshift tombstone this morning. (Again, this is hypothetically written, but even writing it, I’m getting the point all too well myself). On the positive side, how many amazing individuals make a difference one face at a time, one bowl of food at a time, to act of compassion at a time. Above only organizations are mentioned except for Bill Gates but what about the names of those that spend a lifetime living giving to another in a 3rd world country when they grew up in a western home full of convenience? They have a name too? Their family they left behind for most of their life knows it and so does the family they serve in their 3rd “home”land that is truly their 1st world. What about those that do get a chance to give in an offering or go on a short term trip? They have a name, and so do the people they meet along their journey.
We can’t grasp the real story (singular), because we too often only get the overload of too many stories (very plural) with too many names and faces. I can only praise and thank God that “He is God….and I am not!” He is God and He knows every story, every face, ever detail and every hair on every head (shaven, full of lice, disease, expensive perfumed shampoo, colored, gray…yes I have a few myself)! He grasps it and He cares! “Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you” (Jeremiah 1:5 The Message) That makes all the difference for all of us when we think we can’t make a difference, in our own story and in the story of another (singular), or even others (plural).
In closing, I’ll share something that’s not hypothetical, but a real person, with a real story and a real name. His name is Paul, he’s a pastor. I last saw him about 10 years ago with his 9 year old son, whose name is Silas. At the time, Paul was a fellow pastor serving alongside my oldest brother Steve. Tanya was pregnant with our 2nd child and when we met Paul and heard him call to his 9 year old Silas running around. The “name” grabbed our hearts and the day our child was born and we learned he was a boy, we called him Silas. Today, my 9 year old son named Silas is at school in Edlibach, Switzerland. Today, Paul and his son Silas are sitting in a jail in Haiti. Paul and Silas are one of the 10 Americans currently being charged with child trafficking as reported in new headlines all over the world. Paul and Silas have a name, a face and a story. Yes, knowing the names and faces of those in the stories being reported around the world makes a difference. Yes, knowing that God knows the stories and faces of the stories being reported around the world makes a difference.
In 2010, I’m seeking to learn through other’s stories. As this year continues, I’m a bit nervous in looking too deep into others stories…….but I believe the journey will be “beyond what words can express”, and I believe………. that’s enough words right there.
In His grip and grace…
(and in prayer for a man named Paul and his son Silas),
PS- I don’t know the stories each of other “8 Americans” in Haiti, nor the rest of the 8 billion on the planet, but I can pray for those I don’t even know as well, because God knows them and God cares!