For quite a few years now, my mandate from the Lord and the song in my heart goes something like this…
Give me eyes to see, give me ears to hear, give me lips to speak your will….
I have my own little jingle that I sing it to, and when I traveled alone nearly daily, I would often find myself lost in my own little song. Little did I know then, that this calling and song in my heart would become a prayer that led me to some amazing sights and revelation.
Over the course of the last month I have been able to see both the darkness and sadness of New Orleans, as well as the beauty and splendor. I’m still digesting this.
And then a bit over a week later, my family escaped to Cancun Mexico for nearly a week. It was here that God gave me eyes to see and ears to hear. Cancun is beautiful. Honestly, we love nearly everything there. However, before we even arrived at our normal time share, God was awakening me.
Our new, beautiful and far to fancy for us time share is on the North end of Cancun. That means, in order to get to it, you drive past some of the “less kept up” areas of the city. Not the worst by any stretch of the imagination, but for this small town Iowa girl and her innocent fair skinned beauties, a cultural shock. How is it that in a time frame of less than 3 minutes we can drive from what we would view as dismal conditions to clean fresh, modern, excessive living? And, if that weren’t enough, we went here… That big fancy house sat right on ocean front property. And RIGHT next door was the house on the left. Seriously. Right there on ocean front property right next to the mansion. Talk about an obvious display of the extremes….
As I looked through the lenses that he gave me, guess what I saw. I saw true community. They were gathered around. The kids were playing simple games, but laughing and giggling. The adults weren’t “keeping to themselves,” they were outside communing. And my sense was that this “village” would protect one another, stand up for one another, celebrate with one another. You see, their priorities weren’t the appearances of their “homes” As we drove by, I found myself not wanting them to see me staring and processing with the kids. They on the other hand didn’t seem to notice. They were busy building relationships and watching the kids play.
And then ears to hear… Yes, the laughter and the voices, but really it was “the” voice that pierced me. Sitting there, lost in my world of judging others and thinking about how the people in the nice house should do something to help the people that were so poor and ugh… how could this happen. (insert eye roll, but I was really a bit disgusted yet with the “big” house.) And what does our gracious God do. He speaks to me. In my innermost being he tells me, what makes where you are from so different? There are big houses and poor people, you just aren’t looking for them like you are here. WOW… talk about perspective. He’s so right (I know, big surprise huh – God is right, who would have thought?)
You see, all to often we “go” somewhere to experience what we think of as the mission field. We alert our senses to the fact that we are somewhere different so keep your eyes open. Why do we get so laxidasical in our own backyard, and yet wide eyed when out in other places? It’s true you know, it is everywhere. Since we got home, I have been lost in that reality. You see, we don’t have to go to a foreign land to see economic differences. It’s right here in my small little town, and more personally, it’s me. When we have eyes to see, sometimes what we see is hard. Really hard. Both of these photos are in my little Northwest Iowa town of Sioux Center. Population 7000+. For those of you reading this from “here” you’ll quickly notice that the house on the left is my house. (For this ten seconds, I will tell you that is a hard thing to admit) The house on the right is also in Sioux Center, although I’m guessing most would have NO clue where. As I process this, I hit right between the eyes with the reality that “it” is really everywhere.
When I was in New Orleans, the reality of rich and poor took on a meaning all it’s own, and in Mexico it was so displayed that you couldn’t miss it. But here. Tucked away in my little corner of the world? I thought that I understood this. Honestly, with my work at Atlas and the different ministries I have been a part of, I thought that I had a pretty good handle on the “reality” of our town. But, God has chosen to give me eyes to see. And that sick feeling in my gut, that’s because I was so quick to pass judgement on others, and God had to point out to me that “I” am absolutely no different than “them.” Honestly, I don’t feel condemned for my house, that’s not my point. My point is that I do feel convicted that I need to open my eyes more to what is around me. Tom and I love to help and bless others, but are we doing it enough? We love to pray for others, but how are we connecting with them so that we can pray for them?
I’m left wondering what someone who comes to visit our town from “somewhere” else might think. And as I ponder, I’m realizing that they may very well feel the way I felt on that little island in Mexico. You see, I think it is so easy for us to think we are excluded, and develop a prideful spirit. Truth is, if we had eyes to see, we would realize that it is everywhere. It is our next door neighbor. It is the kid next to us in school.
Lest we get to hung up on the financial aspect of the inequalities, let’s remember to look with the eyes of God. Yes, he would see the drastic differences between wealth and poverty. BUT… more importantly he would see the difference in our heart conditions. If we slow down to “see” and to look people in the eye, we will find a new perspective. Some of us are a bit afraid to let God touch us so profoundly. Because if he does, we will never truly be the same.
Today, I’m chosing to see. I let God touch me in that profound way this month, and I hope that I am never the same. I hope that my eyes to see don’t simply look past the poor and the needy. I pray that my eyes to see will see more of the heart of the people and not just the “front” that they put up. And I’m seeking ears to hear God more. Ears that will listen to what is going on around me and hear it the way God would have me hear it. Ears that will listen to the Holy Spirit and move into action when he calls.
And finally lips that will speak his will. He makes it clear that I should speak for Him. Here’s the deal though. He isn’t calling me to be a bible teacher (while that is a part of it) He is calling me to be a voice for what is on his heart. Lord, today may my voice be for each of us to open our eyes and see what’s right next to us. May we see the joy and the “Village” as well as the sadness and despair!
How about you??? What is he calling you to right where you are?