I read recently on Ann Voskamp’s blog a piece that she posted back in July. One sentence she wrote, not only pricked my heart, it sliced it wide open. ” Part of the solution to poverty is doing whatever it takes to get your heart to stay with the poor.” My mind started reeling with all of the possible ramifications of that one single statement. One extravagance at a time was laid bare, exposed for the folly that it can be in a daily life of relative ease. It’s not often that I go deep here. I want to go deep today. For myself. I need to go as deep as this thinking will take me today. Because, I have been remiss.
I read that one line, and it upended me. I must have sat, slack-jawed, for a good 2 minutes before I understood the gravity of her point. It would seem that I’ve let my heart roam much too far down Comfortable Street and away from the poor. I don’t believe that I’ve done all that I am ABLE to do to get my heart to stay with the poor – because it’s “the poor”. It’s Them. Not my family. But it is – My Family. The precious little ones, among the poor, rest especially uneasy on my heart today. I’ve allowed my heart to stray toward Comfort and away from Responsibility. I want, now, to give enough of myself that it feels uncomfortable.
Comfort is so easily taken for granted. I think of our sweet 9 year old Benson, whom we sponsor through Compassion International, and our newly found 5 year old Joan, whom we also sponsor. And it grieves me to know that we’ve gotten a letter from one, written in their almost perfect penmanship, telling how their mother “has passed, but I give God good thanks for you sponsor of me.” I am imagining my own children. Left behind. With nothing but joy for the opportunity. And I can’t. I. Can. Not. Imagine!
The sense of urgency I feel, now, is palpable; for I am able! I am able to do more than I do. I am able to show how much their situation in life grieves me by giving more than I do. I’m not just talking about monetary giving, necessarily; no. I’ve been there and done that and my heart grew cold. Apathy crept in and took up residence as I continued down the aisle of “Easy”. I’m growing increasingly uncomfortable each time I zero in on my own needs to the exclusion of the poor among us. How can my heart remain calm when my sweet Benson and Joan are living in a shack, the size of Sweetgirl’s bedroom, likely with no light, little food, and possibly no place to lay their weary heads? And yet… With thankful hearts that are overflowing with joy for the knowing of this Jesus whom I claim to follow. How?
Maybe, just maybe, there is a thing being worked out in me that I have been roadblocking at every turn. Until now. This upending of my heart? It’s painful. It’s shameful. It’s depressing. And…
For, if Iam indeed able, then I am indeed responsible. And if it has been laid upon my heart, then I am aware. And awareness + ability = compassion that can flood the darkest recess. The most hope-less reaches. The altogether unlovely amongst us. Amongst us! Amongst my own circle of influence, the least of these, and my entire earthly family. Yes, Lord; Yes, Lord; Yes, Yes, Lord!
So, as I head into this Christmas, this time of rejoicing in The Most Spectacular Gift Ever Given, it is my hope that this great sense of overwhelming compassion that I feel will stay with me. Will prompt me to move. All year long. And evermore. Amen!